"Joe Biden" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

U.S. Removes Uganda from Trade Deal Following Homophobic Law

The U.S. has removed Uganda from the list of nations eligible to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because of their enactment of the “Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

Last May, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the “Anti-Homosexuality Act,” which makes “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by the death penalty and “recruitment, promotion, and funding” of same-sex “activities” punishable by a life sentence, according to LGBTQ Nation. In a statement following the law’s passage, President Joe Biden called for the law to be repealed.

“The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is 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 read. “I join with people around the world—including many in Uganda—in calling for its immediate repeal. No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong.”

Now, in a December 29 proclamation, Biden wrote that he had determined that Uganda did not meet the requirements to continue benefitting from the AGOA trade deal, along with Central African Republic, Gabon, and Niger. Passed in 2000 and extended in 2015, AGOA allows sub-Saharan African countries meeting criteria reevaluated annual by the U.S. president to export over 1,8000 products to the U.S. duty-free. Eligibility criteria include enacting policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption, and protect human rights.

In an October 30 letter to the speaker of the House and president pro-tem of the Senate, Biden wrote that he intended to terminate AGOA for Uganda because its government “had engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”