US to deploy visa restrictions over Anti-homosexuality Act, says Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • US’ diplomacy chief, Blinken, says Washington “is deeply troubled by Uganda’s passage of the law.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the US is considering deploying existing visa restriction tools against Ugandan officials and other individuals over the Anti-homosexuality Act.

By Tuesday morning, ties between Uganda and US appeared to be on track to a slippery path after President Museveni went ahead to enact the new law largely celebrated at home but facing much condemnation from foreign actors and interest groups.

US’ diplomacy chief, Blinken, says Washington “is deeply troubled by Uganda’s passage of the law that undermines the human rights, prosperity, and welfare of all Ugandans.”

“Uganda’s failure to safeguard the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons is part of a broader degradation of human rights protections that puts Ugandan citizens at risk and damages the country’s reputation as a destination for investment, development, tourism, and refugees,” he remarked shortly after US President Joe Biden May 29 urged an immediate repeal of the Act with threats for sanctions.

“I have also directed the Department of State to update our travel guidance to American citizens and to U.S. businesses,” Blinken added in a statement.

“The United States urges the Government of Uganda to refrain from implementing laws that undermine human rights,” he emphasized.

On Monday, Ugandan lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa claimed the US Embassy in Kampala revoked visas of Parliament Speaker Anita Among on May 12, 2023 due to her role in adopting the stricter legislation.

According to him, more Western powers were promising to take similar decisions targeting high profile government officials and Ugandans voicing support for efforts against same-sex relationships.  

But Blinken now notes that: “In the context of the serious concerns conveyed by President Biden, I am announcing today that the Department of State will develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda and to promote accountability for Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in, abusing their human rights.”