May 30, 2024

White House threatens to pull aid as Uganda passes bill criminalizing identifying as LGBTQ and imposes death penalty for some offenses

DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni listens as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel makes opening comments during a meeting at the Pentagon September 27, 2013. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett (Released)

The White House on Wednesday threatened to pull aid to Uganda, a day after the Ugandan parliament passed a bill criminalizing identifying as LGBTQ+, and imposed a death penalty for some offenses.

The bill still requires the signature of President Yoweri Museveni to become law. Museveni has previously supported anti-LGBTQ+ measures.

The proposed law would declare all same-sex conduct nonconsensual, criminalize same-sex marriage and make it illegal to conduct a marriage ceremony between people of the same sex.

It would also threaten prosecution and imprisonment for people and institutions that distribute any conduct that advocates gay rights or “promotes homosexuality,” including the media.

Supporters of the law say LGBTQ+ activities threaten traditional values in the country, which is said to be deeply religious.

The legislation originally imposed up to 10 years in prison for homosexual offenses, but the new version pushed through at the last minute carries the death penalty for what is described as “aggravated homosexuality”, and life imprisonment for the offense of “homosexuality.”

Aggravated homosexuality refers to offenses involving minors and other vulnerable people. A person convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” faces 14 years behind bars.

Uganda is already among 30 African countries that ban same-sex relations. The new bill would simply broaden penalties and appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+, according to Human Rights Watch, which urged Ugandan lawmakers to withdraw the proposal.

At a news briefing on Wednesday, the White House threatened to pull aid if the bill is signed into law by President Museveni.

“We have grave concerns with the passage of the Anti Homosexuality act AHA by the parliament of Uganda yesterday and increasing violence targeting LGBTQI plus persons,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a White House briefing on Wednesday.

She added, “If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV aid, deter tourism and invest in Uganda and damage Uganda’s international reputation.

“The bill is one of the most extreme anti LGBTQI plus 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.”

According to the State Department, the United States provides more than $950 million in aid to Uganda each year, money used to support development and health care measures, such as combating HIV/AIDS.

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1 year ago

Cut of ALL aid to Uganda. If they don’t want to believe in human rights then they can go it alone.