Obama urged to fight for LGBT rights in Africa

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Two human rights groups have urged President Obama to bring up LGBT rights when he attends the US-Africa Leaders Summit next week.

The Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights First said in a statement that it will be a “once-in-a-generation moment” to improve conditions for LGBT Africans, reports ABC News.

The groups claim that 37 African counties have made LGBT relationships illegal, and that the leaders of 32 of them will be in attendance at the summit.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who both have introduced harsh penalties for being gay, are due to attend the event.

Last month, the US government pledged harsher economic sanctions for Uganda due to its Anti-Homosexuality Act. The measures included removing funding and banning Ugandans involved in human rights abuses from travelling to the US.

Shawn Gaylord, Human Rights First’s adviser for LGBT rights said: “We believe the US can do more in both Nigeria and Uganda to ensure that US funding is not being given to any institution or group that is abusing human rights, including actively discriminating against the LGBT community.

“We recognize that this is a difficult process with competing interests, made more difficult by the rhetoric espoused by some leaders that the movement for the rights of LGBT people is something invented in the West and being imposed upon African societies.”

Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said: “The Obama Administration has long spoken out — including with our African partners — in support of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

“We expect the summit will provide an opportunity to continue these conversations.”

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Human Rights First have also produced a report into LGBT rights across Africa.