US President Joe Biden calls for the immediate repeal of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, in a strongly worded statement issued by the White House that also threatened sanctions against the East African nation.
Biden called the law’s enactment a tragic violation of universal human rights and one not worthy of the Ugandan people.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni earlier signed the law, which has penalties that include 20-year incarceration for promoting homosexuality and capital punishment for having sex when HIV positive.
The US President cautioned that the legislation jeopardised the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country, including eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Biden’s statement said no one should have to live in constant fear for their life or be subjected to violence and discrimination, calling it wrong. He warned that since the Act was introduced, reports of violence and discrimination targeting Ugandans who are or are perceived to be LGBTQI+, were on the rise.
Calling it a shameful Act, the US President described it as just the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda, instructing his National Security Council to evaluate the implications of the law.
That review will include all aspects of US engagement with Uganda, including its ability to safely deliver services under the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) Uganda’s eligibility to the AGOA, while further sanctions and visa restrictions would be considered against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption.
Biden calls for immediate repeal of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act
This was the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in March when the US warned of repercussions were the law to see the light of day.
“The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world. Human rights are universal. No one should be attacked, imprisoned, or killed simply because of who they are or whom they love.” says Jean-Pierre.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to social media to strongly condemn the law calling it “appalling and abhorrent”.
The UK’s Minister of State for Africa Andrew Mitchell said the law was a setback in the fight against HIV/AIDS; the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell Fontelles called the law deplorable and contrary to international human rights law while the UN’s Human Rights Office said it was appalled by the draconian and discriminatory bill, calling it a recipe for systematic violations of LGBTQI+ rights.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says, “A number of UN agencies, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS, have said they were appalled by the draconian, discriminatory, anti-gay bill that is now passed into law in Uganda.”
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, recently expressed his concern about worsening laws criminalising lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world, including in Uganda. He said these laws violate human rights and they lead to violence and they drive people against one another.
A Joint statement from the Global Fund, UNAIDS and PEPFAR expressed deep concern about the harmful impact of the law on the health of Uganda’s citizens and its impact on the HIV/AIDS response that had been so successful to date – warning that the country’s progress on the HIV response was now in grave jeopardy as the legislation had already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services… in part due to an erosion in trust, confidentiality and stigma-free engagement for anyone seeking HIV-related healthcare in Uganda.
Outcry over signing into law anti-LGBTQI+ bill in Uganda