Earlier today, the United States harshly criticized Uganda's new anti-gay bill, which aims to punish "aggravated homosexuality" with life imprisonment. The bill is known in Uganda as the "kill the gays bill," as it originally included provisions that would make homosexuality punishable by death.
While emphasizing Uganda's sovereignty, an official from the U.S. State Department said that the United States opposes "any legislation that undermines a person's enjoyment of his or her human rights, and for that reason we condemn legislation that criminalizes consensual sexual conduct between adults or criminalizes simply being of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity." The official also noted that some Ugandan state institutions have also come out "against further criminalization of homosexuality." Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi opposed the vote, saying not enough MPs were present for there to be proper quorum. In 2010, President Obama called the proposed law "odious."
The United States wasn't alone in criticizing the bill. In a statement published on his website with the title "Let people love who they love," British billionaire Richard Branson sharply criticized the law and indicated he won't be doing business in Uganda while it's in effect and urged others to do the same:
I have been courted by various people and government officials to do business in Uganda. I was seriously considering it.
However, the dreadful witch hunt against the gay community and lifetime sentences means it would be against my conscience to support this country.
I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit. Uganda must reconsider or find it being ostracised by companies and tourists worldwide.
Although the bill was passed on Friday, it has not yet become law. Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni has 30 days to approve it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.