A masked Kenyan supporter of the LGBT community joins others during a protest against Uganda's anti-gay bill in front of the Ugandan High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, 10 February 2014. EPA FILE/DAI KUROKAWA

US threatens Uganda with sanctions over anti-LGBT+ law

Washington, May 29 (EFE).- US President Joe Biden on Monday demanded his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni immediately repeal the African country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act and threatened to sanction it over its “tragic violation of the universal human rights.”

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, 24 November 2022. EFE/EPA/LUONG THAI LINH

“I join with people around the world – including many in Uganda – in calling for its immediate repeal. No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination,” Biden said in a statement.

Members of the gay community protest before the High Commission of Uganda in Nairobi, Kenya, on February 10, 2014. EFE FILE/Dai Kurokawa

Biden announced that he has directed the National Security Council to assess the implications of the law “on all aspects of US engagement with Uganda,” including the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and other forms of assistance and investments.

“We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption,” the president warned.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in another statement that universal human rights include the rights of LGBT+ people.

“I am announcing today that the Department of State will develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda and to promote accountability for Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in, abusing their human rights,” he said.

He directed the State Department to update travel guidance to American citizens and to businesses as well as to “consider deploying existing visa restrictions tools against Ugandan officials and other individuals for abuse of universal human rights.”

Museveni on Monday approved the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which includes long prison terms and the death penalty for some crimes, one of the strictest laws against the LGBT+ community in the world.

Biden claimed that since the law was introduced, “reports of violence and discrimination targeting Ugandans who are or are perceived to be LGBTQI+ are on the rise.”

“Innocent Ugandans now fear going to hospitals, clinics, or other establishments to receive life-saving medical care lest they be targeted by hateful reprisals,” the US president denounced.

Some have been evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs and the prospect of “graver” threats such as “lengthy prison sentences, violence, abuse (…) threatens any number of Ugandans who want nothing more than to live their lives in safety and freedom,” he added.

“This shameful Act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda,” said Biden, who added that the dangers posed by this “democratic backsliding” are a threat to all who reside in Uganda, including US government personnel and tourists.

He also recalled that US programs in the country “have boosted economic growth and agricultural productivity, increased investments in Ugandan businesses, and strengthened our trade cooperation.”

In all, the US government invests nearly $1 billion a year in Uganda to further the two countries’ common agenda.

“The scale of our commitments speaks to the value we place on this partnership – and our faith in the people of Uganda to build for themselves a better future. It is my sincere hope that we can continue to build on this progress, together, and strengthen protections for the human rights of people everywhere,” the president concluded. EFE