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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 20 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 25
U.S. bans Ugandan officials, cuts aid over anti-Gay laws
Section One
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U.S. bans Ugandan officials, cuts aid over anti-Gay laws

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The White House announced on June 19 that the United States would ban Ugandan officials involved in human rights abuses, and would cut off funding for Ugandan government services.

The press release specifically cited 'the Government of Uganda's enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA)' which 'runs counter to universal human rights and complicates our bilateral relationship.'

Although the White House press release reaffirms 'our commitment to providing development and humanitarian support for the Ugandan people,' and 'our partnership with the Ugandan government to counter the murderous Lord's Resistance Army and improve security in Africa,' it also enumerates a number of measures designed to punish the Ugandan government for enacting anti-Gay measures.

'[T]he Department of State is taking measures to prevent entry into the United States by certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals,' the White House said.

Banning foreign officials from entering the United States is considered a serious step, usually reserved for war criminals or representatives of hostile countries.

'In addition, the United States will take steps, consistent with current authorities, to prevent entry into the United States by Ugandans who are found responsible for significant public corruption. We are also discontinuing or redirecting funds for certain additional programs involving the Ugandan Police Force, Ministry of Health, and National Public Health Institute, and cancelling plans to hold a U.S. military-sponsored aviation exercise in Uganda.'

The U.S. and other Western countries had threatened to cut aid and other ties with the Ugandan government if the country enacted anti-Gay laws. The United Kingdom and several Scandinavian countries have already reduced financial aid.

LGBT rights groups had urged the Obama administration to take just such a step, and they applauded the announcement.

'This announcement sends a clear message that the United States will not tolerate foreign governments engaging in state-sponsored acts of homophobia and transphobia against their own people,' said Ty Cobb, HRC's Director of Global Engagement.

'We must put all world leaders on notice that such efforts have no place in the 21st century, and there will be severe consequences for engaging in them. This creates an important precedent for leaders and governments considering implementing similar laws. It is important that the Administration continues to review our diplomatic relationship with Uganda, as well as with other nations such as Nigeria and Brunei, which have also taken disturbing steps backwards.'

HIV/AIDS groups, on the other hand, have in the past expressed concern that cutting aid to Ugandan health efforts would impede the fight against AIDS in a country where the disease is a widespread public health problem.

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