Blinken Says US To Consider Visa Restrictions Over Ugandan Anti-gay Law

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BY THE HILL

President Joe Biden has called for the immediate repeal of Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act and warned of possible sanctions in a statement Monday, as his administration evaluates “the implications of this law on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda.” 

“This shameful Act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda.  The dangers posed by this democratic backsliding are a threat to everyone residing in Uganda, including U.S. government personnel, the staff of our implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community, and others,” Biden wrote after lawmakers passed the law, which Uganda’s president subsequently signed into law.

The new anti-gay law would impose the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” and would impose a life sentence for engaging in gay sex. The state defines “aggravated homosexuality” as homosexual acts carried out by those infected with H.I.V. or homosexual acts that involve children, persons with disabilities, or those drugged against their will. 

Biden called for the repeal of the Ugandan law and warned of significant action against the country. 

In his statement, Biden said he directed his National Security Council to evaluate the implications of the law on U.S. engagement with Uganda, including whether the U.S. will continue to safely deliver services under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Biden said the new law might affect Uganda’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

“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,” Biden added.

“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 be subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong,” Biden wrote in the statement. 

Biden pointed to the nearly $1 billion the United States invests annually in Uganda and said, “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.”

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