US slaps sanctions on Uganda for anti-gay law

The United States will discontinue some aid and implement travel bans against Ugandan officials in protest of the country's recently enacted anti-gay laws, the White House announced Thursday.

"We continue — in Uganda and around the world — to oppose discriminatory practices and champion human rights for all," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

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Under the anti-gay legislation, signed in February, penalties for homosexual acts — already illegal — were strengthened to include life in prison. The law also calls for jail time for those who counsel gays and lesbians, and provisions penalizing human rights groups that provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

An original draft of the bill included clauses that would have carried death penalties for "aggravated homosexuality," including acts where one person was infected with HIV, had sex with minors, or was a "serial" offender, according to Amnesty International.

In response, the State Department will prevent entry into the United States of "certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals," according to Hayden.

"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," she added.

The Pentagon will cancel a regional aviation exercise scheduled to be held in Uganda, an administration official said.

The U.S. also plans to discontinue aid to programs that benefit the Ugandan Police Force, Ministry of Health, and National Public Health Institute.

The White House insisted the moves would not diminish U.S. development or humanitarian aid to the country, or a partnership with the Ugandan government to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Earlier this year, White House spokesman Jay Carney blasted the anti-gay legislation as a "step backward" and said the U.S. would "undertake a review of its relationship with Uganda."

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