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US denies visa to Ugandan MP who called for homosexual castration

The Ugandan MP Sarah Achieng Opendi, who called for homosexuals to be castrated during a parliamentary debate on the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ+ laws has been denied a visa to attend a UN meeting in New York next week.

Opendi expressed “shock” after the US embassy in Kampala rejected her application to travel to the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women , pending “administrative” review.

“Ninety-six per cent of MPs voted in favour of the bill and I am aware of a number of MPs that have gotten visas to the US yet they supported the bill,” said Opendi, the chair of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association.

A US state department spokesperson said they cannot discuss individual visa cases.

In December, the US imposed visa restrictions on hundreds of Ugandan lawmakers and their families over their involvement in the legislation, signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, which imposes the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain same-sex acts and sentences of up to 20 years for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”.

Last year, the US and UK denied visas to the parliamentary speaker Anita Among. Activists in Uganda have welcomed the actions.

“In the process of discussing the sweeping and repressive anti-homosexuality law, many Ugandan legislators 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,” said the human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo.

“The denial of a visa is a strong statement against those spreading hatred. I hope it sends a firm message that such individuals have no place in civilised societies,” he added.

Steven Kabuye, a human rights activist in Kampala, said politicians were being held “accountable”.

“They can’t claim to hate homosexuality in their home countries and then go ahead and enjoy life in LGBTQ+ utopias,” he said. “I am glad the US visa ban on Ugandan politicians who violate human rights is working..”

In Africa, 33 of 55 countries have legislation against same-sex relations, much of it dating from colonial regimes.

Kenya, Namibia, Niger, Tanzania and Uganda have moved to tighten anti-gay laws. Last week Ghana passed a bill criminalising same-sex relationships. Namibia has recently legislated against same-sex marriages and Kenya has a bill before parliament seeking to outlaw same-sex unions.

On Monday, the International Aids Society expressed concern that a surge in anti-gay laws threatens the HIV response.

“There is an urgent need for the governments of these countries to work with, not against, communities most vulnerable to HIV,” the IAS president, Sharon Lewin, said.

“We call on the presidents of Ghana, Namibia and Kenya to stand against these discriminatory bills. At the IAS, we urge you to put people first and follow the science: criminalising any population fuels the HIV pandemic by excluding people from testing, treatment and care.”

Civil society groups are awaiting a ruling on a constitutional court appeal over the Ugandan legislation.

Source: The Guardian

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