United States Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said that an anti-homosexuality bill signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is “horrific [and] wrong.”
The law, touted as “one of the world’s most restrictive anti-gay measures” by The New York Times, calls for life imprisonment for individuals engaging in homosexual acts.
The law also states that individuals convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as homosexual acts with children or disabled people, or forced homosexual acts – can be punishable by the death penalty.
“This Uganda law is horrific & wrong,” Cruz tweeted on May 29. “Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse. #LGBTQ.”
A twitter account known as Ocen Stiv, based in Kampala, Uganda, responded to Cruz’ comment, saying that most Ugandans want to protect their children from homosexuality.
“We need to protect minors at all cost,” the tweet from Ocen Stiv said. “The law is actually not draconian as people my wish to put it. It allows us to preserve our values and stay away from this sin and vice.”
In another tweet, Cruz that that imposing “life imprisonment for consenting adults who engage in gay sex” is “ridiculous.”
The Uganda Parliament introduced the measure over two months ago and made several revisions prior to its final passage. In a May 2 article entitled, ‘Uganda waters down anti-gay law,’ BBC News writer Patience Atuhaire said the bill is “still one of the toughest pieces of anti-gay legislation on the continent,” also noting that the bill “was passed with an overwhelming majority, with only one MP opposing it.”
The final bill, signed into law by Museveni on Friday, does not penalize individuals for simply identifying as homosexuals.
In a May 29 statement, United States President Joe Biden called the law “a tragic violation of universal human rights – one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country.”
The statement notes that the U.S. government “invests nearly $1 billion annually in Uganda’s people, business, institutions, and military to advance our common agenda.”
Such funding might be on the chopping block, according to the statement.
Asuman Basaliraw, member of the Ugandan Parliament, applauded the passage of the bill and said Uganda must stand firm, despite opposition from other nations.
“We have no choice but to stand our ground,” Basaliraw said. “Otherwise, if we don’t stand our ground, this is what is going to happen. Next time, they will bring another condition on our laws. Don’t pass this law. If you do so, then x, y, and z is likely to happen. So, if we don’t stand our ground as a country, as a people, as a community, then we will completely have seceded our sovereignty and independence as a country.”
Anita Among, Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, had her US visa revoked following the passage of the bill. Basaliraw said Among was the “first victim” of Uganda’s stance.
Michael Baleke, a news correspondent for the South Africa-based SABC News, said that though the bill has attracted heavy “condemnation” from the international scene, it has wide local support among Ugandans. “Locally here, many Ugandans are excited about the president’s decision,” Baleke said.