US President Barack Obama described a proposed Ugandan law against homosexuality as “odious” at the National Prayer Breakfast today.
The annual breakfast, which every US president attends, is sponsored by secretive Christian association The Fellowship.
Some of its members have allegedly supported the Ugandan bill, which would execute gays if passed into law in its current form.
AFP reports that Obama acknowledged that some at the event held differing views on gay rights, but said: “Surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it is here in the United States or… more extremely, in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”
The breakfast was attended by a number of high-profile lawmakers and religious leaders.
David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who introduced the bill, claimed to have been asked to attend. Last month, he was disinvited.
Gay rights leaders close to the White House, including the gay Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, had lobbied Obama to mention the law today.
Liberal religious leaders in the US responded to the president’s appearance at the event by hosting their own version, called the American Prayer Hour.
The liberal event was described by organisers as “a multi-city affirmation of inclusive values and a celebration of diversity”.
A press release said: “It is also an action to protest the sponsors of The National Prayer Breakfast. . . [who are] directly tied to the draconian ‘kill the gays’ bill in Uganda.”
The Fellowship, also known as The Family, is an intensely private Christian conservative organisation. It has no website, contact details or published member list.
Members, who are thought to include politicians, business leaders and religious figures, are reportedly asked not to speak about it publicly.