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(LifeSiteNews) — Uganda’s foreign minister recently accused the United States of using visa restrictions against Ugandan politicians as a way of “pushing the LGBT agenda” in the conservative nation. 

On Wednesday, December 6, Henry Okello Oryem – the State Minister for Foreign Affairs in Uganda – told Reuters that “there’s a coup at the State Department in the U.S.” and argued that “it is being taken over by people who are pushing the LGBT agenda in Africa.” 

“Why don’t they impose the same sanctions on the Middle East countries which have the same or harsher laws against LGBT?” Oryem wondered. He also promised that “if they deny our MPs visas, they will [go] to Shanghai, Guangzhou.” He added that “there are very many beautiful places to visit” besides the United States. 

READ: Uganda forced to turn to Communist China for loans after Western punishment over anti-sodomy laws 

The remarks were shared after Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a Monday, December 4 press release declaring the extension of the 2021 visa restriction policy. The original policy was imposed following Uganda’s 2021 presidential elections, which Blinken described as “flawed.” It was intended as a way of “targeting those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda.” 

Monday’s extension includes “current or former Ugandan officials” who were involved with “policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations. These groups include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons, and civil society organizers.” 

Blinken also noted that “immediate family members” of these officials “may also be subject to these restrictions.” He concluded his statement by claiming that “the United States stands by the Ugandan people and remains committed to working together to advance democracy, human rights, public health, and mutual prosperity.”  

READ:  Uganda defers signing EU agreement due to concerns about left-wing sexual ideology 

Despite Blinken’s apparent sympathies, the United States and Uganda have a recent history of strong disagreement and opposition in the culture wars, including the areas of gender ideology and abortion. After Uganda passed a strict law known as the “anti-homosexuality bill” in March, Biden’s National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby criticized the legislation as a breach of human rights. 

The law expands upon Uganda’s already conservative policies regarding homosexuality to include a total ban on same-sex sex acts, same-sex “marriage,” and LGBT self-identification, and imposes lengthy prison sentences on anyone directly engaged in homosexuality or enabling such acts to occur.  

Western observers expressed particular concern over the part of the legislation which “propose[s] the death penalty for anyone engaging in aggravated homosexuality.” The law also specifies punishment for those who “recruit a child for the purpose of engaging in homosexual acts.” 

In response to backlash from the liberal Western world, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni stood by the law, calling homosexuality “a type of sickness.” He added that, despite consistent criticism, “nobody will move us” from reversing the decision. 

Last month, the Biden administration announced that it would be removing four African nations – Uganda, Niger, Gabon, and the Central African Republic – from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to “gross violations” of left-wing values framed as “human rights.” The move came months after Uganda’s signing of the anti-sodomy law.