US updates Uganda travel warning over anti-gay law

Agence France-Presse
US updates Uganda travel warning over anti-gay law
Signs are posted in front of the Ugandan Embassy during a protest over the Uganda's parliamentary Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 on April 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. LGBTQIA+ rights activists are taking part in a day of action across the United States to call on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to stop the bill, which passed on March 21, from going forward.
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images / AFP Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

KAMPALA, Uganda — The United States has updated its travel warning for Uganda following the adoption of draconian anti-gay legislation last month, the State Department said.

"Reconsider travel to Uganda due to crime, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation," it said in a new advisory issued late Monday.

It said the Anti-Homosexuality Act "raises the risk that LGBTQI+ persons, and those perceived to be LGBTQI+, could be prosecuted and subjected to life imprisonment or death based on provisions in the law".

President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law on May 29, triggering outrage among human rights groups, the United Nations and LGBTQ activists as well as Western powers.

It is considered one of the harshest such laws in the world, containing provisions making "aggravated homosexuality" a capital offense and penalties for consensual same-sex relations of up to life in prison.

"LGBTQI+ persons, or persons perceived to be LGBTQI+, could face harassment, imprisonment, blackmail, and violence," the US State Department said, warning also of the risk of attacks by "vigilantes".

"Be mindful that any public identification with the LGBTQI+ community, as either a member or supporter, could be grounds for prosecution, and that even private consensual same-sex relations are illegal."

In May, US President Joe Biden called for the immediate repeal of the measures he slammed as "a tragic violation of universal human rights", and threatened to cut aid and investment in the East African country.

But earlier this month Museveni defied international calls to rescind the law, saying "no one will move us".

The legislation has broad support in the conservative Christian country, where lawmakers have defended the measures as a necessary bulwark against Western immorality.

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