WASHINGTON, – Troubled by a movement against gays across much of the world, the U.S. is launching a new effort to combat what Secretary of State John Kerry described Wednesday as a threat to human rights.
Comparing a harsh Ugandan law to oppressive government crackdowns on German Jews in the 1930s and black South Africans during apartheid, Kerry said he was going to direct American ambassadors to look at “how we deal with this human rights challenge on a global basis.” He said 80 nations worldwide have anti-gay laws on some level, and he called the one in Uganda — which punishes gay sex with up to life in prison — “atrocious” and “flat-out morally wrong.”
“You could change the focus of this legislation to black or Jewish, and you could be in 1930s Germany or you could be in 1950s or ’60s apartheid South Africa,” Kerry told reporters during a 55-minute question-and-answer session at the U.S. State Department. “It was wrong there — egregiously — in both places, and it is wrong here.”
He said the issue would be a major focus of discussion when U.S. ambassadors from across the world return to Washington for meetings in the weeks ahead.
He did not mention a proposed Arizona law that, if approved by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, would allow businesses whose owners cite religious beliefs to deny service to gays. She vetoed it later in the day.
Earlier, in an interview with MSNBC, Kerry said, “This has not been an easy path in the United States, but . . . we’ve made enormous progress in the United States, and we will stand up for people’s rights . . . anywhere in the world.”