US threatens Uganda with possible sanctions over anti-gay law
The US White House has warned Uganda of possible sanctions if the newly passed anti-gay bill becomes effective.
Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday passed into law the stricter anti-gay bill which outlined harsher punishment for people who engage in same-sex activities.
Penalties under the new legislation include a 10-year-jail term for anyone who engages in same-sex relationships or identifies as LGBTQ.
There was very little opposition to the bill in parliament, which has majority of members backing the controversial legislation.
The new law has been condemned by the international community including the United States, the UK and other European nations.
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US secretary of state said in a statement that “The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation.”
On Wednesday the National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists Uganda could face some sanctions.
“We would have to take a look at whether or not there might be repercussions that we would have to take, perhaps in an economic way, should this law actually get passed and enacted,” Kirby said.
“So, we’ll have to take a look. No decisions. We’re watching this very, very closely. And hopefully, it won’t pass and we won’t have to do anything.”
The passed bill is awaiting a presidential assent before becoming law.
The European Union in a statement said the criminalisation of homosexuality is contrary to international human rights law.
“The European Union will continue engaging with the Ugandan authorities and civil society to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are treated equally, with dignity and respect,” it said.
But what does the bill now passed into law say?
- A person who is convicted of grooming or trafficking children for purposes of engaging them in homosexual activities faces life in prison.
- Individuals or institutions which support or fund LGBT rights’ activities or organisations, or publish, broadcast and distribute pro-gay media material and literature, also face prosecution and imprisonment.
- Media groups, journalists and publishers face prosecution and imprisonment for publishing, broadcasting, distribution of any content that advocates for gay rights or “promotes homosexuality”.
- Death penalty for what is described as “aggravated homosexuality”, that is sexual abuse of a child, a person with disability or vulnerable people, or in cases where a victim of homosexual assault is infected with a life-long illness.
- Property owners also face risk of being jailed if their premises are used as a “brothel” for homosexual acts or any other sexual minorities rights’ activities.
Homophobia is already rife in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni has described homosexuals as “disgusting”.