In a swift response, the United States has revoked the visas of Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Anita Among following the stricter anti-gay Bill becoming law in Uganda.
On Monday the Speaker revealed that President Yoweri Museveni had signed the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023, introducing tougher punishments and fines for financiers and promoters of homosexuality in Uganda.
Lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa addressing journalists in Kampala said “Anita Among is the first victim” of likely sanctions.
Uganda has resisted pressure from the US and the donor community, including threats to withdraw funding, especially in the health sector.
“As Parliament for Uganda, we have heeded the concerns of our people and legislated to protect the sanctity of the family, as per Article 31 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. We have stood strong to defend the culture, values, and aspirations of our people as per objectives 19 and 24 of our national objectives and directive principles of state policy,” Ms Among said.
Assent into law
Parliament had passed the Bill on March 22 and sent it to the President for assent, but Museveni returned it to the House days later unsigned on the grounds that the law should not criminalise the state of one having a homosexuality disposition but those who engage in and promote homosexuality.
“It is important to distinguish between being a homosexual and engaging in acts of homosexuality. What is clear is that our society does not support homosexuality conduct or actions. Therefore, the proposed law should be clear such that what is sought to be criminalised is not the state of one having a deviant proclivity but rather the actions of one acting on that deviant or promoting the same in any way,” Museveni said in a letter to the Speaker.
Museveni also said that he desired the Bill to make provision for the rehabilitation of people formerly engaged in homosexual acts but reiterated that his proposal was not binding and could be handled at a later time.
“...when they present themselves to the relevant authority seeking help in case where their involvement in homosexuality was not of an aggravated kind, should not punishable,” said Museveni.
Earlier this month, Parliament, in a second vote, passed the Bill but with amendments to five clauses following the proposals by Museveni. This is the Bill the President has signed into law.
The law prescribed death penalty for certain same-sex acts and a 20-year sentence for promoting homosexuality.
“The Speaker’s current visas have been cancelled and this is confirmed in an email,” said Mr Basalirwa, who had moved the Bill in Parliament.
Quoting the said email shortly after it became known that President Museveni had brushed aside pressure from the West and rights groups to sign the anti-gay Bill into law, Basalirwa added that: “The US government has revoked your (Among) current visas on information that came available after your last issuance,” he read.
“As of May 12, 2023, you (Among) don’t possess a valid visa to the US although you are welcome to apply again,” he stated as he displayed a printout of the mail to journalists at Parliament.
By press time, the US Mission in Uganda was not available to comment on the developments.
- Additional reporting by David Vosh Ajuna, Daily Monitor.