Uganda Preferred Trade Status to be Reviewed; State Dept Seeks Report on Bill
March 8, 2010 by Ty Cobb, Director of Global Engagement
Responding to a January 12th letter from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the State Department said that the “Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2009” pending in the Ugandan Parliament is “a serious affront to internationally accepted human rights standards.” Senator Wyden’s letter called for a review of Uganda’s preferred trade status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which authorizes duty-free importation of certain goods from preferred status countries. As a condition of receiving preferred status under AGOA, a country must not be engaged in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” In its letter, the State Department said that it will work closely with Congress and other stakeholders during its yearly review of AGOA eligibility. The letter also stated that the State Department has asked all of its embassies in Africa to report on host country laws and pending legislation that criminalizes homosexuality. Moreover, it stated that the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has established a task force on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues to strategize a U.S. response to LBGT issues worldwide. We applaud these unprecedented actions by the State Department to address international LGBT human rights violations, particularly the recent activity around criminalization of homosexuality in African nations.