President Joe Biden dropped Uganda and three other African countries from a major trade pact on Monday due to “gross violations” of human rights.
The exclusion from the trade pact follows anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed earlier this year in Uganda. In May, the Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni making gay sex a criminal offense. The bill was backed by 389 of 389 members of parliament.
In addition, the law also makes “aggravated” homosexual acts punishable by death, while consensual relations can earn you life in prison. The bill has been called the “Kill the Gays” law by activists.
According to LGBTQ Nation “in the notification, Biden accused the governments of both Uganda and the Central African Republic of engaging ‘in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,’ in breach of eligibility criteria for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000.” The sub-Saharan countries that meet this criteria are offered duty-free access to the U.S. economy.
Other countries dropped from the pact include the Gabonese Republic and Niger, for reasons of “not making continual progress toward establishing the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law.”
Uganda denounced the decision claiming the U.S. seeks to punish Ugandans for these laws. Adviser to President Museveni, Odrek Rwabwogo, said the trade move told Ugandans that “their already slim prospects for economic prosperity are contingent on whether they vote in line with the values of whoever happens to hold high office in the U.S., not their own.”
The U.S. is not the first to cut off Uganda for its inhumane laws. In August, the World Bank announced it was suspending new loans to the country. The U.S. Department of State also released a travel advisory to U.S. citizens asking that they reconsider travel to Uganda.
Many organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, have condemned Uganda for their choice to criminalize homosexuality as many countries around the world work towards marriage equality, tolerance and full acceptance of LGBTQ+ people into society.