The United States has made clear its intentions to impose visa restrictions on Ugandan officials responsible for implementing a contentious anti-gay law, carrying severe penalties, possibly including death sentences.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the U.S. would deny visas to both present and past officials, along with their family members, if there’s evidence of their involvement in “repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations.”
This move reflects a strong stance against human rights violations and underscores the U.S. commitment to protecting the rights of individuals in marginalized communities.
“These groups include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons and civil society organizers,” Blinken said in a statement.
“I once again strongly encourage the government of Uganda to make concerted efforts to uphold democracy and to respect and protect human rights so that we may sustain the decades-long partnership between our countries that has benefited Americans and Ugandans alike,” he said.
Uganda faced stern condemnation from US President Joe Biden, the European Union, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in May for enacting one of the most severe anti-homosexuality laws globally.
The legislation introduces the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” under specific circumstances. However, it’s noteworthy that Uganda, unlike the United States, has not implemented capital punishment in many years.
Despite widespread international criticism, President Yoweri Museveni remained steadfast in resisting external pressures against the controversial law.
The legislation has garnered substantial support within the country, reflecting a complex interplay of domestic sentiments and international human rights concerns.
The global community’s condemnation underscores the ongoing challenges related to LGBTQ+ rights and the tensions between national sovereignty and international human rights norms.
A decade ago, Uganda reversed a previous law that mandated life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual relations, responding to pressure from international donors, including the United States, who reduced aid in protest.
The recent visa policy, without explicitly identifying individuals, represents an extension of restrictions imposed on Uganda due to alleged irregularities in the 2021 election, securing another term for President Museveni, a former rebel who has held the presidency since 1986.
In a separate announcement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that the United States would deny visas to individuals deemed to have undermined Zimbabwe’s election in August.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose party has maintained power for over four decades, claimed victory in the election, criticized by international observers for falling short of democratic standards.
The move underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to addressing concerns related to electoral integrity and human rights violations across different regions.