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US warns businesses of risks in Uganda, citing anti-LGBTQ law

THE United States issued a business advisory for Uganda, saying that businesses faced potential risks in the African country, citing an anti-LGBTQ law condemned by many countries and the United Nations.

The advisory was issued by the U.S. Departments of State, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Commerce, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

THE TAKE

Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law, considered one of the harshest in the world, was enacted in May and carries the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” an offence that includes transmitting HIV through gay sex. It drew condemnation from Western governments, including Washington, and put in jeopardy some of the billions of dollars in foreign aid the country received each year.

Firms including media and non-governmental organizations that knowingly promote LGBTQ activity will incur harsh fines, the law says. The law also imposes a life sentence for same-sex intercourse and a 20-year sentence for the promotion of homosexuality.

KEY QUOTE

“Uganda’s enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) on May 29, 2023, further increases restrictions on human rights, to include restrictions on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, and exacerbates issues regarding the respect for leases and employment contracts,” the U.S. government’s business advisory said.

CONTEXT

In June, the U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions on Uganda officials after the passage of the law.

The State Department also updated its Uganda travel guidance for U.S. citizens to highlight the risk that LGBTQ persons could be prosecuted and subjected to life imprisonment or the death penalty based on provisions in the law.

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Rights groups have said that the law has unleashed a torrent of abuse against LGBTQ people, mostly by private individuals.

The World Bank has said it will aim to ensure gay and transgender Ugandans are not discriminated against in its programmes before resuming new funding, which was halted in August over the law.

By KANISHKA SINGH AND JASPER WARD

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