LGBTQ+ Democrats push for America to stop funding Uganda over anti-homosexuality law

Two of Congress’ newest representatives are pushing for the US to cut all funding to Uganda because of the East African country’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was signed into law in May and is one of the strictest anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world, including introducing a possible death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality”.

California representative Robert Garcia, a Democrat and gay, has filed an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act that, if approved, would block any funds going to the landlocked nation.

Garcia’s amendment reads: “None of the funds authorised to be appropriated by this Act, or otherwise made available to the Department of Defence, are authorised to be made available to provide assistance for the Uganda police force or the [the armed forces, known as the] Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), including assistance in the form of equipment or training or to co-ordinate joint exercises with such group.”

Funds could be made available to Uganda if the Secretary of State can satisfy a number of criteria to the House and Senate Foreign Relations committees.

This includes proving the Ugandan government is successfully prosecuting UPDF members for human rights violations, establish that the police force or UPDF are not persecuting LGBTQ+ people or enforcing the Anti-Homosexuality Act, that both forces are protecting people such as journalists, trade unionists, government critics and other activists, and guarantee a judicial system capable of bringing justice to police and military members who have committed human rights abuses.

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There is also a provision that the president could waive the amendment for up to 180 days where it’s “vital” to the national security interests of the US or its allies.

As reported by The Advocate, Garcia’s amendment is one of more than 1,500 that have been filed by the House of Representatives – all of which need to be approved or not by the House Rules Committee before the act, which funds the Pentagon’s budget of almost one trillion dollars, can be passed.

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Garcia said the law in Uganda “is a stark violation of our fundamental principles, punishing individuals for their very identity and love“.

His amendment, he added, would “send a clear message that we will not turn a blind eye to the persecution and marginalisation of LGBTQ+ individuals“.

‘A matter of life or death’

The Advocate also reported that fellow Democrat, Vermont representative Becca Balint is making similar demands.

According to a report in The Intercept last month, Balint, who is also queer, was working on an amendment to restrict or cut off security assistance, saying: “The United States cannot continue to support countries that actively persecute and criminalise LGBTQI+ people.”

The “situation for LGBTQI+ people in Uganda is a matter of life or death” she added, and it was “clear we have an obligation to stand up against the targeted violence toward the Ugandan LGBTQI+ community”.

The US Defense Department is reported to have spent more than $280 million (more than £200 million) on equipment and training for Uganda since 2011.

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