Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken has revealed that the US may consider restricting visas for some Ugandan officials after the country opted to adopt one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ laws in the world.
According to Blinken, the US was ‘deeply troubled’ by Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni yesterday.
While same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, the new law imposes capital punishment for some behaviours including ‘aggravated homosexuality”, and 20 years in prison for ‘promoting’ homosexuality.
Africa Today News, New York recalls that Museveni had previously called on lawmakers to delete the provision on ‘aggravated homosexuality’.
US President Joe Biden quickly condemned the law as “a tragic violation of universal human rights” and threatened to cut aid and investment to the East African country.
He urged Uganda to repeal the measure.
In a statement later on Monday, Blinken said the US would ‘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.’
State department guidance for US citizens and businesses on travel to Uganda was also being updated, while Washington would also help “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 added.
A rights group announced later Monday that it had filed a legal challenge with Uganda’s High Court, arguing that the legislation was ‘blatantly unconstitutional’.
‘By criminalising what we call consensual same-sex activity among adults, it goes against key provisions of the constitution including rights on equality and non-discrimination,’ said Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum.
The European Union, United Kingdom, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, human rights groups and LGBTQ organisations also expressed their shock at the adoption of the law.
UNAIDS noted that Uganda and President Museveni had been at the forefront of campaigns to end AIDS based on the principle of access to healthcare for all.