The United States has updated its travel advice for Uganda, following the promulgation in May of the "Anti-Homosexuality Law 2023", considered to be one of the most repressive in the world, according to a note published Monday evening by the State Department.
The law provides for heavy penalties for people who have homosexual relations and "promote" homosexuality. The crime of "aggravated homosexuality" is punishable by death, a sentence that has not been applied for years in Uganda.
The US State Department, which had already warned its nationals to "reconsider travel" to Uganda because of the terrorist attacks and crime rate, said that the enactment of the anti-homosexuality law "increases the risk that LGBTQI+ individuals, and those perceived to be LGBTQI+, will be prosecuted and sentenced to life imprisonment or death".
The US authorities also warned of the risk of "harassment or attacks by vigilante groups" against LGBT+ people.
"The US should understand that Uganda is a sovereign state that legislates for its people and not for the Western world. They can issue travel advisories because it is their right, but it should be remembered that blackmail has no place in the modern world," Ugandan Information Minister Chris Baryomunsi told AFP, adding that the US decision was "expected".
President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled this African country in the Great Lakes region with an iron fist since 1986, promulgated the law on 29 May, sparking outrage from human rights organizations and many Western countries. Despite threats of sanctions, the Ugandan head of state assured the world that "no one will make us move".
Denouncing a "tragic attack" on human rights, US President Joe Biden said he had asked his administration to study the consequences of this "shameful" law on "all aspects of cooperation between the United States and Uganda".
The American authorities are considering "additional measures", such as sanctions or restrictions on entry to their territory for "anyone associated with human rights violations or corruption," he added.
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, also condemned the law as "contrary to human rights".
In 2014, international donors had already reduced their aid following the passing of a law punishing homosexuality.
In particular, Washington suspended funding for government programs and imposed visa bans. European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands had also frozen part of their bilateral aid.
The law was eventually annulled by the Constitutional Court on the grounds of a technical defect in the vote.