Uganda Claims Western Blackmail Over Anti-LGBTQ Bill

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Uganda said on Tuesday that donor threats of penalties amounted to “blackmail” in response to the West’s reaction to the East African nation’s new anti-LGBTQ law, which is regarded as one of the harshest in the world.

According to the law that President Yoweri Museveni signed, “aggravated homosexuality”—a crime that includes sharing gay sex with someone who has HIV—is punishable by death.

Its implementation, which was announced on Monday, attracted swift criticism from Western governments and jeopardizes a portion of the country’s yearly foreign aid of billions of dollars.

While Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the government would consider imposing visa restrictions on Ugandan officials, U.S. President Joe Biden threatened aid reductions and other consequences.

The law, according to Josep Borrell, the head of foreign strategy for the EU, will affect Uganda’s relations with other countries.

Information Minister Chris Baryomunsi dismissed the criticism in the first in-depth remarks from the Ugandan government following Museveni’s signing of the law.

“Homosexuality is not seen as a constitutional right in our country. Simply put, it is a sexual deviance that Africans and Ugandans do not support, he told Reuters.

“While we value the assistance we receive from partners, they should be reminded that we are a sovereign nation and do not enact laws for the West. In Uganda, we enact laws on behalf of our own citizens. Therefore, that form of blackmail is unacceptable.

On Monday, attorneys and activists from Uganda filed a lawsuit challenging the law. They claim it was passed without genuine public engagement and claim it increases discrimination and stigmatization.

Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told Reuters in an interview that he anticipates the courts to concur.

Turk called the bill “devastating” and expressed his hope that the judiciary would look into it. “I can assure you, if they look at human rights law, their own constitution, they will find it in violation of it,” Turk said.

He made no further mention of the specific constitutional provision that had been broken.

A spokeswoman then added: “a whole range,” when asked about alleged transgressions of international law, citing the rights to equality, non-discrimination, and life as examples.

The CEO of France’s Total Energies (TTEF.PA), which is building a $3.5 billion oil pipeline between Tanzania and Uganda, notified Museveni about the company’s opinions on the law before he signed it, according to Reuters on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Total Energies stated that respect for others is one of their key values.

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