White House raises ‘grave concerns’ over passage of anti-LGBTQ law in Uganda

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Greg Nash
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addresses reporters during the daily briefing at the White House on Thursday, March 16, 2023.

The White House on Wednesday condemned the passage of a law by Uganda’s parliament that would impose severe punishments on individuals who identify as LGBTQ and raised the possibility of economic consequences if it’s enacted.

“We have grave concerns with the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, AHA, by the parliament of Uganda yesterday, and increasing violence targeting LGBTQIA+ persons,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it will impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and… damage Uganda’s international reputation.”

The bill proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which involves cases of sex involving those infected with HIV or involving minors or other vulnerable populations.

The legislation also proposes life in prison for the offense of “homosexuality” and up to 10 years in jail for attempted homosexuality.

“If signed into law by the President, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other,” Volker Türk, the high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations, said in a statement.

Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 African countries, according to The Associated Press.

John Kirby, a White House spokesperson on national security issues, told reporters that the administration is watching closely to see whether the bill is signed into law.

Kirby said if it’s enacted, the U.S. may have to look at possible economic penalties against Uganda in response.

“And that would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Kirby said.

Tags John Kirby Karine Jean-Pierre

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