US mulls visa curbs over Uganda’s anti-gay law

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President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni has signed a new law, one of the world’s toughest anti-homosexuality measures, drawing widspread criticism from within the country and internationally….reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden on Monday slammed Uganda president Yoweri Museveni for signing a new anti-homosexuality law, and called it a “tragic violation of universal human rights”. US President Biden also demanded for its immediate repeal.

Biden said that no one should have to live in fear for life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni has signed a new law which mandates a 20-year term for “promoting” homosexuality and also prescribes for death penalty for certain behaviour including engaging in gay sex when HIV positive.

“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 jeopardises the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country. 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. It is wrong,” Biden said in an official statement.

Biden also said that ever since the Anti-Homosexuality Act was introduced, reports of violence and discrimination targeting Ugandans who are or are perceived to be LGBTQI+ are increasing.

The US president also said that this shameful Act is the latest development in Uganda’s alarming human rights abuses and corruption trend. The dangers posed by this democratic backsliding are a threat to everyone residing in Uganda, including the US government personnel, the staff of our implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community and others.

Biden also said that he has directed the US National Security Council to evaluate the implication of this 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, according to an official statement of White House.

Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Anita Among in a post Twitter on Monday said, “I now encourage the duty bearers under the law to execute the mandate bestowed upon them in the Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

“The People of Uganda have spoken, and it is your duty to now enforce the law in a fair, steadfast, and firm manner,” she said.

Same-sex relationships are prohibited in more than 30 African nations, including Uganda, but the new law goes considerably further in its discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons, as per Al Jazeera.

The approval of the law comes despite opposition from Western governments, businesses, and human rights activists, Al Jazeera reported.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 was one of six pieces of legislation that Museveni’s office confirmed the president signed into law on Sunday.

US mulls visa restrictions

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said United States would consider visa restrictions against Ugandan officials and others for the abuse of human rights following the implementation of the anti-gay law.

“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) threatens the lives of its people as well as the country’s prosperity. The United States urges the immediate repeal of the AHA to protect the human rights of all Ugandans,” Blinken said.

He said Uganda’s failure to safeguard the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons is part of a broader degradation of human rights protections that puts Ugandan citizens at risk and damages the country’s reputation as a destination for investment, development, tourism, and refugees.

He said the State Department 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.

“I have also directed the Department to update our travel guidance to American citizens and to U.S. 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 stated. (with inputs from ANI)

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