1 of 2 | U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expanded visa restrictions Monday to include Ugandan officials or others, who are responsible for "undermining the democratic process in Uganda" and for marginalizing vulnerable populations through the country's Anti-Homosexuality Act. File Photo by Ben Solomon of U.S. Department of State | License Photo
Dec. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expanded visa restrictions Monday in Uganda to target those responsible for undermining the democratic process through "flawed electoral processes, violence and intimidation," following the country's 2021 presidential elections and this year's harsh anti-gay law.
Monday's announcement expands current restrictions to include Ugandan officials or others "who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda or for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations," Blinken said in a statement.
The East African country is accused of repressing LGBTQI+ persons, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizers, according to the State Department. Blinken said family members of those vulnerable populations may also be subject to visa restrictions.
In May, Blinken called for restricting visas for some Ugandan officials after Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposes capital punishment for "aggravated homosexuality," and 20 years in prison for "promoting" homosexuality.
In response to what is considered the world's toughest anti-LGBTQ law, U.S. President Joe Biden also threatened restrictions against "anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption."
The World Bank suspended its lending to the East African country in August, a move Museveni responded to with anger.
"Some of these imperialist actors are insufferable. You have to work hard, to restrain yourself from exploding with anger. The provocations by the World Bank and the thoughtless homosexual lobby, should not provoke us into being, automatically, anti-Western," Museveni said.
On Monday, Blinken said, "The United States stands by the Ugandan people and remains committed to working together to advance democracy, human rights, public health and mutual prosperity."
"I once again strongly encourage the Government of Uganda to make concerted efforts to uphold democracy and to respect and protect human rights so that we may sustain the decades-long partnership between our countries that has benefited Americans and Ugandans alike," Blinken added.