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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Washington (AFP) – The United States Thursday slapped sanctions on Uganda — cancelling a military air exercise, imposing visa bans and freezing some aid — amid deep U.S. anger at “vile” Ugandan anti-gay laws.

The legislation “runs counter to universal human rights and complicates our bilateral relationship,” the White House said, renewing calls for the law to be repealed.

Signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, the law calls for “repeat homosexuals” to be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and obliges Ugandans to denounce gays to the authorities.

Rights groups say it has triggered a sharp increase in arrests and assaults of the African nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“From Uganda to Russia to Iran, LGBT communities face discriminatory laws and practices that attack dignity, undermine safety and violate human rights,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at a Gay Pride event for his staff.

“And we each have a responsibility to push back against the global trend of rising violence and discrimination against LGBT persons,” said Kerry, who has likened the Ugandan law to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called for similar anti-gay laws that exist in 76 countries around the world to be repealed.

In the steps unveiled Thursday, specific Ugandan officials involved in “human rights abuses” — including against the gay community — will be barred entry to the United States, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

The U.S. gave some $487 million in aid to Uganda in 2013, of which $411 million went towards health programs. Some of those funds will now be frozen or redirected, with money going towards non-governmental organizations rather than the health ministry.

A $2.4 million program for a community-policing program will also be stopped as the U.S. is “very concerned about the extent to which the Ugandan police may be involved in abusive actions” in implementing the law, the White House said.

And a planned National Health Institute will now be built in another African country with some $3 million in U.S. aid.

While the United States was committed to supporting the health needs of the Ugandan people, “we seek to invest in partners and programs that share our commitment to equal access and our evidence-based approach to medicine and science,” the White House said.

Plans for a U.S. military-sponsored aviation exercise in Uganda were also cancelled, but Hayden stressed none of the moves “diminishes our commitment to providing development and humanitarian support for the Ugandan people.”

Nor would the U.S. cut back on its bid to track down “the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army.”

Rights groups last month reported an increase in “arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion” among the gay and lesbian community, adding “scores have fled the country” and at least one person had been killed.

Some 17 people had been arrested on “allegations of consensual same-sex conduct with other adults or, in some cases, simply on the suspicion of appearing to be LGBT,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International said in a joint report.

Most have since been released without charge, some after paying bribes, the groups said. Others said they were sexually assaulted in custody.

With tabloid newspapers printing pictures of dozens of people alleged to be gay, at least 100 have fled the country.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday’s announcement “sends a stern signal to the Ugandan government: the United States will not tolerate the vile persecution of LGBT Ugandans.”

The legislation “represents breathtaking ignorance, injustice, and cruelty,” Pelosi said in a statement.

AFP Photo/Stan Honda

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  • tdm3624

    “…amid deep U.S. anger at “vile” Ugandan anti-gay laws.”

    OK. Since I doubt that more than half of the U.S. population don’t even know where Uganda is I doubt that there is “deep” U. S. anger over legislation that is passed in that country. I suspect that there is “deep” anger from a small segment of the population for whom this issue is important (which is completely understandable), but not from the majority population.

    • Allan Richardson

      The Americans who do know where Uganda is are angry over its new laws, PROMOTED BY AMERICAN “CHRISTIANS,” not only those who are personally affected, but millions who are not personally affected, but who believe injustice to anyone is injustice to everyone. And the majority of those who do NOT know where Uganda is feel the same way when they are told about it.

      To most Americans, Uganda is where a cannibalistic dictator named Idi Amin Dada (portrayed by Forrest Whittaker in the movie “The Last King of Scotland”) once ruled, and where an El Al Airlines flight was hijacked, and its hostages rescued from the Entebbe Airport by Israeli commandos on July 4, 1976. Now they are cannibalizing their future by suppressing people who are different, but creative, thus losing much of the brain power that would help their country advance.

  • Allan Richardson

    If it were not for the criminalizing of gay people in the 1940s and 1950s in Britain, their greatest computer and mathematics expert, Alan Turing, would not have committed suicide in his 40s. Staying in the closet during the war, he organized, controlled and trained the staff of cryptographic experts at Bletchley Park who (with the help of some very advanced computing equipment that was destroyed after the war to keep its secrets) cracked almost every coded message the Germans sent, adding a significant amount of help to winning the war. His relationship with a student in the 1950s was discovered when he reported a burglary, and the police investigated THEM instead of the burglar! Sentenced to “chemical castration,” he took cyanide out of depression. How many future inventions in computer science would have been made by him DECADES earlier had he been left alone in his personal life? Just one example … a nation stifles creativity when it stifles differences, whether in gender relations or in other aspects of private social behavior. Uganda needs the brains of its gay citizens even more than the larger and more advanced nations, so they will pay for this in more poverty and less economic growth in the future.

    • squirrel

      Nobody needs brainwashed brains, they’re useless. I wonder why USA is bothered & scared of a tiny poor nation in Africa. Uganda is a sovereign state with its laws so let Obama get his aid & stick it in his ass. I think there are more homeless p’ple in US than Uganda so use your money to buy them houses or feed them, we won’t embrace gay crap over small money & besides Uganda’s relationship with US wasn’t built on gay grounds.