News (World)

Uganda lawmaker who called for gay people to be castrated denied entry into the US

Ugndan MP Sarah Achieng Opendi
Ugndan MP Sarah Achieng Opendi Photo: Screenshot

The U.S. has denied a visa to a Ugandan member of parliament who suggested homosexual people should be castrated.

During a speech in support of Uganda’s 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act – which punishes homosexuality and its “promotion” with prison time and death – MP Sarah Achieng Opendi suggested an amendment that would allow gay people to be castrated so they couldn’t “continue with homosexuality” in prison.

The U.S. embassy in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, recently denied Opendi’s request for a visa to travel to New York for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women next week.

A statement from Opendi reported by the Guardian expressed anger that other MPs who supported the Anti-Homosexuality Act have been granted visas. After its rejection, Opendi’s request to travel is reportedly under administrative review.

But Ugandan LGBTQ+ activists are celebrating the move.

“The denial of a visa is a strong statement against those spreading hatred,” said human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo. “I hope it sends a firm message that such individuals have no place in civilized societies.”

Opiyo also called out Ugandan legislators who “stated they do not care about the concerns of development partners as they do not need to travel to their jurisdictions.”

“It is the case of the chicken coming home to roost,” he said.

Activist Steven Kabuye – who was recently the victim of a vicious homophobic attack – said politicians “can’t claim to hate homosexuality in their home countries and then go ahead and enjoy life in LGBTQ+ utopias.”

“I am glad the U.S. visa ban on Ugandan politicians who violate human rights is working,” he said.

Uganda’s law has colloquially been referred to as the “Kill the Gays” law. After it was signed enthusiastically by the country’s president Yoweri Museveni in May of last year, the U.S. announced visa restrictions on unnamed officials, as well as Uganda’s expulsion from a U.S.-led trade pact as part of a long line of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and international community in protest of the extreme legislation.

The U.S. also threatened aid to Ghana after the country’s parliament passed its own anti-LGBTQ+ bill last week. The bill would increase the country’s existing criminal penalties for homosexuality from three years in prison to five. The “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill” would also make it a crime to identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally and punish anyone who provides support, advocacy, or funding for LGBTQ+ rights.

Responding to the bill’s February 28 approval, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Thursday that should it become law, the bill “would certainly have a chilling effect on foreign investment and tourism in Ghana,” adding that “it would potentially have ramifications on U.S. assistance.”

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