This week’s summit in Washington of national leaders from across Africa offers an essential opportunity for the Obama administration to advance one of its stated foreign policy goals: to promote the safety, equality and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world.
But it also presents a precarious balancing act between incentivizing progress without inducing a backlash that could worsen the situation for LGBT people in their home countries and impede international collaboration on other health, safety and development goals.
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit being held Aug. 4 to 6 will include the heads of state or government from 40 African countries – 32 of which maintain laws that criminalize sexual relations among LGBT people. Two of the presidents, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, lead countries that, just this year, have enacted extreme anti-LGBT laws that have intensified persecution in those countries.
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