US issues travel advisory against Uganda after anti-gay bill signed into law

Travellers at the airport. [File Standard]

The United States government has cautioned its citizens against travelling to Uganda, following the recent enactment of the anti-gay bill into law, and other reasons including crime and terrorism.

In a statement on Tuesday, June 13, the U.S Embassy in Uganda warned American citizens planning to travel to Uganda to reconsider, saying the legislation of the anti-gay bill poses many risks.

“The May 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act raises the risk that LGBTQI+ persons, and those perceived to be LGBTQI+, could be prosecuted and subjected to life imprisonment or death, based on provisions in the law, and may be subject to mandatory reporting to the police if they are suspected of committing or intending to commit acts in violation of the law. They could face harassment or attacks by vigilantes,” U.S government said.

The advisory comes two weeks after the U.S. warned that it was considering sanctions against Uganda, over what it termed “tragic violation of universal human rights.”

“Social acceptance of homosexuality is very low. LGBTQI+ persons, or persons perceived to be LGBTQI+, could face harassment, imprisonment, blackmail, and violence, with heightened risk surrounding the passage of the anti-homosexuality Act,” the U.S noted.

On May 29, US President Joe Biden had asked the government of Uganda to repeal the bill, signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on May 26.

Other reasons the U.S has advised its citizens to stay vigilant include crime and terrorism.

“There remains a threat of terrorist attacks in Uganda and throughout the region. Terrorist attacks occurred in several villages in western Uganda in December 2022 and there were multiple bombings in and around Kampala in 2021.”

“While the attacks did not appear to target foreign nationals, anyone can be a victim,” the U.S government noted.

American citizens in the East African country have been asked to keep a low profile, be aware of their surroundings and not display any signs of wealth for instance donning expensive watches and jewelry.