Uganda accuses US of pushing ‘LGBT agenda’ after new round of sanctions

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s government on Wednesday denounced the United States’ expansion of visa restrictions against its officials, accusing Washington of pushing an “LGBT agenda” in Africa.

The new visa restrictions announced on Monday target unidentified officials the U.S. deems responsible for undermining democracy and repressing marginalised groups in Uganda, including the LGBTQ community.

Uganda enacted one of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws in May, which calls for the death penalty for certain same-sex acts.

“There’s a coup at the State Department in the U.S. It is being taken over by people who are pushing the LGBT agenda in Africa,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem told Reuters.

“Why don’t they impose the same sanctions on the Middle East countries which have the same or harsher laws against LGBT?” he said. “If they deny our MPs visas they will (go) to Shanghai, Guangzhou. There are very many beautiful places to visit.”

The Ugandan law’s enactment has unleashed a torrent of abuse against LGBTQ people, mostly committed by private individuals, rights groups said in a report in September.

The U.S. imposed a first round of visa restrictions on Ugandan officials in response to the law in June, and the World Bank halted new lending to the country in August.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Aaron Ross and Kim Coghill)