The US government on Thursday said it was launching a campaign against some 80 nations worldwide that have anti-gay laws. Secretary of State Kerry said Uganda's intention to jail homosexuals was "flat-out morally wrong."
On Monday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill into law that punishes gay sex with up to life imprisonment, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and even requires people to denounce gays.
"What has happened in Uganda is atrocious, and it presents all of us with an enormous challenge, LGBT rights are human rights. It's that simple," Kerry told reporters in Washington.
LGBT is the acronym for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender rights, which activists in Uganda had fought to safeguard.
"You could change the focus of this [Uganda's] legislation to black or Jewish and you could be in 1930s Germany or you could be in 1950s-1960s apartheid South Africa," Kerry said while drawing the comparison.
"It was wrong there egregiously in both places and it is wrong here," Kerry said, referring to the legislative crackdown in Uganda, which receives US funding for treatment of AIDS patients.
Kerry said the US would "wrestle" with anti-gay sentiment which was "bubbling up in various places around the world."
Homophobia 'global problem'
"It's not just an African problem. It's a global problem," he added.
His remarks precede Thursday's release of the US State Department's annual global human rights report.
Anti-gay bill vetoed in Arizona
In the US state of Arizona on Wednesday its governor Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill that had been derided by critics as a license to discriminate against gays.
Last week, Arizona's conservative Republican-controlled state assembly had passed the bill that would have allowed business proprietors to cite their religious beliefs as grounds to refuse to serve gay customers.
Brewer, speaking in the state capital Phoenix, said the bill would have resulted in "unintended and negative consequences."
Proponents of the bill had contended that it merely sought to clarify aspects of Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
ipj/ccp (AP, AFP, Reuters)