US to restrict visas for Ugandans implementing anti-gay law

Washington DC - The United States indicated Monday it would restrict visas of Ugandan officials who implement a controversial anti-gay law, which carries potential death sentences.

The United States has introduced new restrictions on Uganda amid their controversial anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, which carries potential death sentences.
The United States has introduced new restrictions on Uganda amid their controversial anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, which carries potential death sentences.  © IMAGO / Pond5 Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US would refuse visas to current or former officials and their family members if found to be involved in "repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations."

"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.

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In May, President Biden, the European Union, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly criticized Uganda for imposing one of the world's harshest laws against homosexuality.

The new law prescribes the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" in certain circumstances, although Uganda, unlike the US, has not carried out capital punishment for many years.

President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to resist international pressure over the law, which enjoys broad domestic support.

United States expands restrictions on Uganda over anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

A decade earlier, Uganda overturned another law that imposed life imprisonment for homosexual relations after international donors, including the US, slashed aid.

The new visa policy, which does not name individuals publicly, is an expansion of restrictions imposed on Uganda over alleged irregularities in the 2021 election, which handed another term to Museveni, a former rebel who has been president since 1986.

Blinken separately announced that the US would refuse visas to anyone who undermined Zimbabwe's election in August.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose party has been in power for more than four decades, was declared the winner of a new term in an election that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Pond5 Images

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