US, UK threaten sanctions as Museveni signs anti-gay law

Wednesday, May 31st, 2023 00:32 | By
US, UK threaten sanctions as Museveni signs anti-gay law
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signs the anti-LGBT law. PHOTO/Courtesy

Western countries yesterday expressed anger and outrage over the decision by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to assent to the anti-homosexuality bill.

In statements posted on various online platforms, the Western nations led by the United States and the United Kingdom, called for the immediate repeal of the law saying it was retrogressive and discriminatory.

Museveni on Monday assented to the law, which imposes death penalty for “aggravated cases”, which include having gay sex with someone below the age of 18, after Ugandan lawmakers passed the bill.

And immediately he approved the bill, the United States swung into action and revoked the visas of Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Anita Among’.

US President Joe Biden threatened to withdraw key services and cut aid to Uganda should it fail to repeal the law which he termed as a tragic violation of universal human rights.

In a statement posted on the White House website, Biden said they are also considering imposing sanctions and restrictions of entry into the US anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption.

Biden said the passage of the law not only poses a danger to Ugandans but also to US government personnel, the staff of their implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community, and others residing in the county.

He said that in total, the US government invests nearly $1 billion (Sh138 billion) annually in Uganda’s people, business, institutions and military “to advance our common agenda”.

“And 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,” he said.

Biden announced that he had directed the National Security Council to evaluate the implications of the law on all aspects of US engagement with Uganda, including “our ability to safely deliver services under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other forms of assistance and investments”.

In addition, he said, his administration would review Uganda’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

“The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of universal human rights—one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also announced that they will impose visa restrictions against Ugandan officials and others for the abuse of human rights following the enactment of one of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws.

Blinken said they will come up with mechanisms to ensure that Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in abusing human rights, are held responsible.

He said: “I have also directed the Department to update our travel guidance to American citizens and to US businesses as well as to consider deploying existing visa restrictions tools against Ugandan officials and other individuals for abuse of universal human rights, including the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”

Blinken said that Department of State will develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals.

United Nations

The UK government said it was appalled that Museveni had signed the bill into law.

In a tweet, the Minister of State (Development & Africa) Andrew Mitchell said the new law undermined the safety and freedom of all Ugandans as it would increase the risk of violence and discrimination.

“Everyone has the right to live free from discrimination and violence. The UK is appalled that the Government of Uganda has signed the regressive and discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 into law,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the law will encourage human rights violations.

“This law is appalling and abhorrent, and we strongly condemn it. We’ll continue to stand with 2SLGBTQI+ people – and stand up for 2SLGBTQI+ rights – at home and abroad. We strongly urge Ugandan lawmakers to reconsider this legislation,” he said.

The United Nations Human Rights office described the law as draconian.

“It is a recipe for systematic violations of the rights of LGBT people & the wider population. It conflicts with the Constitution and international treaties and requires urgent judicial review,” the office tweeted.

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