FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, September 6, 2011 ( – U.S. ambassadors in the tiny African country of Sierra Leone have been mulling ways to soften the communities there towards homosexuality, including exploiting the specter of related human rights abuses in Uganda, leaked cables reveal.

The unclassified December 2009 cable, part of last week’s Wikileaks dump, originates from the American embassy in the capital city of Freetown and is entitled “Sexual Orientation in Sierra Leone: Quietly in the Closet.”

The cable’s author notes that the gay rights movement has struggled to maintain a foothold in a culture where homosexuality is viewed as primarily a cause of Western influence and “an abomination in the same category as pedophilia, bestiality, and witchcraft.”

A typical gay rights campaign, states the communique, is unlikely to take root: while such a “human rights” program “might help sensitize the population to support gay rights,” it could also end up inciting an angry backlash.

To remedy the situation, the author comments that the topic could be broached by publicizing the situation in Uganda, where lawmakers have proposed controversial legislation to punish homosexual activity with the death penalty in response to pressure from international groups to legitimize the practice. The murder last January of Uganda’s leading gay activist, David Kato, was widely publicized as an anti-gay hate crime despite Kato’s male lover soon confessing to the deed.

“Debate could be triggered by further publicity on anti-gay activities in Uganda,” it states.

However, the author notes, opening “the inevitable debate” on the West African country’s unenforced laws against homosexuality would be more effective in inciting international pressure: “Such a step will provide the international community the opportunity to encourage Sierra Leone to adopt laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Less delicate maneuvering by the Obama administration advancing gay rights in conservative-minded countries has been known to backfire.

In July, A U.S. Embassy party in Islamabad billed as a celebration of homosexual rights inflamed conservative Pakistani groups, who condemned the event as a direct attack on the country’s Islamic values.

Pakistan’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, said that the “terrorism” inflicted by the event was second only to U.S. forces’ unmanned drone attacks against suspected Islamic terrorists in the country.

“They have destroyed us physically, imposed the so-called war on terrorism on us and now they have unleashed cultural terrorism on us,” said party leader Mohammad Hussain Mehnati.


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