Uganda: US imposes visa restrictions over LGBTQI+ rights abuses

The LGBTIQ+ community in Uganda is under threat

A member of the LGBTIQ+ community in Uganda (Photo: Iain Statham / Shutterstock)

The United States is taking steps against those involved in human rights abuses against the LGBTQI+ community in Uganda.

In a statement on Friday, spokesperson Matthew Miller announced that the US Department of State will be imposing visa restrictions “on Ugandan individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda.”

The department also updated its travel advisory to US citizens travelling to Uganda on 12 June to highlight the risks posed by the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act.

It urged US citizens to “reconsider travel to Uganda due to crime, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation.”

The department warned that “LGBTQI+ persons, and those perceived to be LGBTQI+, could be prosecuted and subjected to life imprisonment or death based on provisions in the law, and may be subject to mandatory reporting to the police.”

Miller said the US government, as directed by President Joe Biden, will continue to evaluate additional actions to “promote accountability for Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda, abusing human rights, including those of LGBTQI+ persons, or engaging in corrupt practices.”

President Biden earlier described the Anti-Homosexuality Act as “a tragic violation of universal human rights” and warned that it jeopardises American aid to Uganda as well that country’s continued inclusion in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts, the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, and a 20-year prison term for “promoting” or advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

Landlords can face up to seven years in prison if they knowingly allow premises to be used for homosexuality, and minors engaging in homosexual acts can face three years in prison.

Activists and human rights organisations have filed petitions to challenge the law in Uganda’s Constitutional Court.

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