Uganda accuses US of trying to impose ‘LGBT agenda’ with new sanctions

Protestors stand next to a uniformed officer, holding red signs that read "drop the anti-gay bill."

Uganda has condemned the United States and accused them of trying to push an “LGBT agenda” in Africa after Washington announced new sanctions against Ugandan officials.

The US confirmed on Monday (4 December) that they would expend visa restrictions on Ugandan officials that it deems responsible for repressing several marginalised groups, including the LGBTQ+ community with the controversial anti-LGBTQ+ law introduced this year.

Uganda’s president signed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law earlier this year, which criminalises anyone in the country who identifies as LGBTQ+. 

Ugandan officials have accused the US of pushing an “LGBT agenda” with new sanctions. (GUILLEM SARTORIO/AFP via Getty Images)

Those who identify as queer could face up to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” under the act could face punishment as harsh as the death penalty.

Already, the law has seen a notable spike in homophobic abuse and a number of arrests.

Announcing the visa restrictions on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “Today, I am announcing the expansion of the visa restriction policy to include current or former Ugandan officials or others who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda or for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations.

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“These groups include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons, and civil society organizers.”

The move comes after President Joe Biden announced in October that he planned to end the US relationship with Uganda, and several other African countries over what he described as “gross violations” of human rights.

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A shoulder-height picture of Joe Biden on stage of a Bidenomics conference.
Joe Biden announced his intentions to terminate economic ties with Uganda and others. (Getty)

In response, Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem, has criticised the US and vowed that his government will not yield to the country’s “LGBT agenda”.

“There’s a coup at the State Department in the U.S. It is being taken over by people who are pushing the LGBT agenda in Africa,” said Oryem, per Reuters.

“Why don’t they impose the same sanctions on the Middle Eastern countries which have the same or harsher laws against LGBT?

“If they deny our MPs visas they will [go] to Shanghai, Guangzhou. There are very many beautiful places to visit.”

These visa restrictions are just the latest response to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

A primary round of visa restrictions on Ugandan officials was issued by the US back in June. In August, the World Bank cut off all new lending to the African country because its controversial law “fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values.”

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