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U.S. cuts millions in aid to Uganda over anti-gay law

On Thursday, in response to a hard-line law that imposes strict penalties against homosexuality, the United States cut aid to Uganda and also imposed visa restrictions on people believed to be involved in human rights violations.

In a statement, the White House said the restrictions were made in order to "reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and in February, President Yoweri Museveni signed a new law that places those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" in jail for life. As Reuters reports, before the White House's announcement on Thursday, many Western donors — including in the U.S. — had already stopped or re-directed close to $118 million in aid to Uganda.

After a police raid on a U.S.-funded health program left several people saying they were abused in custody, the U.S. is also withholding $2.4 million that was used to pay for a community policing program. Despite the sanctions, the Ugandan government is staying firm, with spokesman Ofwono Opondo saying that "Uganda is a sovereign country and can never bow to anybody or be blackmailed by anybody on a decision it took in its interests, even if it involves threats to cut off all financial assistance."