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U.S issues Travel Advisory over Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law

According to the US, There remains a threat of terrorist attacks in Uganda and throughout the region after the attacks in western Uganda in December 2022 and multiple bombings in and around Kampala in 2021.

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The United States Government through its Ugandan Embassy has asked its citizens to reconsider travelling to the East African country after the enactment of the new anti-LGBTQI+ legislation.

In the Travel Advisory rated Level 3 released on Tuesday, June 13, the US government warned that Uganda is still vulnerable to insecurity and unlawful acts, and therefore nationals intending to visit the country must take high precautionary measures

“Reconsider travel to Uganda due to crime, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation. Some areas have increased risk,” the statement reads in part.

According to the U.S., “There remains a threat of terrorist attacks in Uganda and throughout the region. Terrorist attacks occurred in several villages in western Uganda in December 2022 and there were multiple bombings in and around Kampala in 2021. While the attacks did not appear to target foreign nationals, anyone can be a victim. U.S. citizens should remain alert and avoid large public gatherings.”

The statement adds that Violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault, presents a serious threat to those visiting and residing in Uganda and can occur at any time, especially in larger cities, including Kampala and Entebbe, in the Karamoja region, and along Uganda’s western and northern borders.

US Nationals are further advised that local police may lack the appropriate resources to respond effectively to serious crime in most areas.

“The May 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act raises the risk that LGBTQI+ persons, and those perceived to be LGBTQI+, could be prosecuted and subjected to life imprisonment or death based on provisions in the law, and may be subject to mandatory reporting to the police if they are suspected of committing or intending to commit acts in violation of the law, and could face harassment or attacks by vigilantes,” adds the advisory statement.

The May 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) includes penalties up to life imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations and capital punishment for crimes of “aggravated homosexuality” (such as serial offenders). Youth under the age of 18 could be prosecuted and imprisoned for multi-year sentences. LGBTQI+ persons, including youth, may be subject to forced conversion therapy – a dangerous and discredited practice that causes significant harm, including high rates of suicide-related thoughts and behaviors among LGBTQI+ youth.

Social acceptance of homosexuality is very low. LGBTQI+ persons, or persons perceived to be LGBTQI+, could face harassment, imprisonment, blackmail, and violence, with heightened risk surrounding the passage of the AHA; The public is required to report to the police a person suspected of committing or intending to commit acts enumerated in the law.

Hoteliers are not permitted to knowingly provide rooms to individuals who may commit acts deemed illegal in the AHA.

Individuals or organizations viewed as publicly supporting the dignity and human rights of LGBTQI+ persons could be prosecuted and imprisoned for multi-year sentences, including those that attend a same-sex marriage either inside or outside of Uganda’s borders. LGBTQI+ organizations or those that advocate for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons may be deemed illegal under the law.

The US, therefore, advised those intending to travel to Uganda to oversee the following:

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  • Do not leave food and drinks unattended in public, especially in local clubs.
  • Remain with a group of friends in public.
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as expensive watches or jewellery.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not open your door for people at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is.
  • Stay alert in locations frequented by foreign tourists.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Carry a copy of your passport and visa (if applicable) and secure originals in your hotel safe.
  • Provide your itinerary to a family member or friend. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Be mindful that any public identification with the LGBTQI+ community, as either a member or supporter, could be grounds for prosecution, and that even private consensual same-sex relations are illegal.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Uganda.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

Source: Travel.State.Gov

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