US expresses concern after Burundi president says gay people should be stoned

(Reuters) – The United States said on Friday it was troubled by comments from Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who last week called on citizens of the small African country to stone gay people.

The comments escalated a crackdown on sexual minorities in a nation where LGBT people already face social ostracism and jail terms of up to two years if convicted of same-sex offences.

“The United States is deeply troubled by President Ndayishimiye’s remarks targeting certain vulnerable and marginalized Burundians,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“We call on all of Burundi’s leaders to respect the inherent dignity and inalienable rights, including equal access to justice, of every member of Burundian society.”

The statement did not refer specifically to the remarks about stoning.

In May, Uganda passed a law that carried the death sentence for certain categories of same-sex offences. The United States has imposed a range of sanctions including travel restrictions and removing Uganda from a tariff-free trade deal.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)