White House says sanctions against Uganda possible over anti-gay law
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre warned members of Uganda’s parliament that sanctions restricting them from doing business with the US could be on the way for those responsible for the passage of a law criminalising the LGBT+ community.
Ms Jean-Pierre made the comments on Wednesday at her daily press briefing, adding that the White House was watching the situation “closely” and determining what the US’ next steps would be should the law be signed and go into effect.
“We're certainly watching this really closely and we would have to take a look at whether or not there might be repercussions that we would have to take, perhaps in an economic way, should this law actually get passed and enacted,” Ms Jean-Pierre said.
She added: “And that would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance, and largely through [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief].”
The bill passed by Uganda’s parliament would implement prison sentences for anyone convicted of a wide range of sexual activity outside of heterosexual norms. Some acts considered “aggravated homosexuality” by the bill’s authors would be eligible for a death sentence.
Should it be signed by Uganda’s president, who has a history of slandering the LGBT+ community, it would make the country one of the most hostile places on Earth for LGBT+ people. And it would come amid a new, resurgent wave of anti-LGBT+ hatred being spurred on the American right wing.
Advocates for human rights in Uganda have vowed to tie up the legislation in legal challenges, and the threat of harming relations, economic and otherwise, with the United States may be enough for the country’s President Yoweri Museveni to back off.
A previous attempt by the country’s government to punish homosexual activity with a sentence of life in prison was struck down by Uganda’s Supreme Court in 2014, one year before the US Supreme Court would rule that gay marriage was a protected right in the 2015 landmark Obergefell decision.