By Spy Uganda Correspondent
The White House is warning that a proposed Ugandan bill that would outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+ could threaten U.S. aid to the African country.
John Kirby, coordinator of strategic communications for the National Security Council, said Wednesday that if the law passes, the Biden administration would consider potential “repercussions … perhaps in an economic way.”
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Kirby said at a press briefing. “Hopefully it won’t pass and we won’t have to do anything.”
The United States provides more than $950 million in aid to Uganda each year, according to the State Department. The money supports development and health care measures, such as combating HIV/AIDS.
Uganda is already among 30 African countries that ban same-sex relations. The new proposal would broaden penalties and appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+, according to Human Rights Watch.
The legislation, which passed Uganda’s parliament on Tuesday, originally imposed up to 10 years in prison for homosexual offenses.
But the new version pushed through at the last minute carries the death penalty for what is described as “aggravated homosexuality” – offenses involving minors and other vulnerable people – and life imprisonment for the offense of “homosexuality.” A person convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” faces 14 years behind bars.
Supporters of the law say it is needed to punish a broad array of LGBTQ+ activities threatening traditional values in the religious country.
“This country will stand firm and once it is passed, I can tell you madam speaker, we are going to reinforce the law enforcement officers to make sure that homosexuals have no space in Uganda,” Musa Ecweru, a member of the Ugandan Parliament, said as the bill was considered.
The bill still requires the signature of President Yoweri Museveni to become law. Although he hasn’t commented on the specific legislation, Museveni has previously supported anti-LGBTQ+ measures.
Museveni signed a previous law that had toughened laws against the LGBTQ+ community, but Uganda’s constitutional court nullified it in 2014 solely because it passed parliament without a required quorum.