The U.S. ambassador to Uganda has warned that Ugandans found to be propagating anti-gay sentiment might be banned from entering the United States, days after the country signed a broad new anti-LGBT law.
In an interview with the BBC World Service on Wednesday, Ambassador Scott DeLisi responded to a question about articles published by the Red Pepper newspaper under the headline “Uganda’s Top 200 Homos Named.”
“We as a government … are appalled by the course that the Red Pepper has chosen,” DeLisi said. “What they do within their society I may not be able to control, but I can tell you they will not be welcome in the United States of America…. Visas can be denied for people who incite violence, people who propagate hate, who have used political violence. There are many bases on which we can deny a visa. And I can tell you that we will be examining all of these issues as we move forward.”
DeLisi also took aim at Ugandans who have responded to U.S. and European criticism of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, signed into law Monday by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, by suggesting Uganda is better off without foreign aid or accusing donor nations of “cultural imperialism.” The U.S. contributes $720–750 million a year to Uganda, including support for HIV treatment, maternal health, and nutrition.
“I hope that the people of Uganda will remember that this isn’t just a debate about culture, or homosexuality, but it is about core values and beliefs and a partnership that has endured for 50 years in a positive way,” DeLisi said. “And if keeping mothers alive, helping people with AIDS, dealing with food security — that’s all about our values as Americans. And if that’s cultural imperialism or social imperialism, [then] I’m a social imperialist.”
While he was careful to make clear that the U.S. was not planning to cut off all foreign aid to Uganda, he suggested programs had to be reevaluated to ensure U.S. dollars were not supporting discrimination.
“I need to be able to do an internal review of all of our activities and our partnerships to ensure that as we move forward our aid is applied and used in a nondiscriminatory manner consistent with American values and beliefs,” he said. “I need much clearer guidance from this government and a clear commitment from the government of Uganda on the principles on which they will enforce and act before I can be confident that we continue some of these programs.”