New York Republican Rep. George Santos introduced a bill Friday that would prevent the U.S. government from providing financial aid to any country that discriminates or takes legal action against its residents based on sexual orientation.
Titled the “Equality and Fiscal Accountability Protection Act of 2023,” the bill, according to Santos’ office, would “require that countries receiving federal aid from the United States protect those based on sexual orientation and for other purposes.”
“Discrimination against both women and the LGBTQ community is unacceptable,” Santos said in a statement about the legislation. “My bill will send a clear message that the United States will not offer federal aid to countries found to be violating the rights of individuals based on sexual orientation. We as a nation have a responsibility to stand up for the human rights of all people, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
Under the bill, Santos’ office said the State Department would be required to “assess a country’s human rights record before providing federal aid.”
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Countries found in violation of certain human rights “would be ineligible to receive aid until they take steps to address the issues,” Santos’ office noted.
Santos introduced the measure after Uganda lawmakers looking to outlaw homosexual activity in the country passed a bill Tuesday prescribing jail terms of up to 10 years for those who have same-sex relations.
Following its passage, the bill, which has received support from a great deal of lawmakers in the country, was sent to the desk of President Yoweri Museveni, who has also expressed support for it. In a recent speech, Museveni accused Western countries of “trying to impose their practices on other people.”
The bill creates an offense of “attempted homosexuality,” punishable by up to 10 years jail time. It also creates an offense called “aggravated homosexuality,” which applies to sexual relations among those infected with HIV, minors and other categories. Its punishment is not immediately clear.
The United States currently “provides significant health and development assistance to Uganda, with a total assistance budget exceeding $950 million per year,” according to the State Department’s website.
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“The U.S. mission is working with the government of Uganda to improve tax collection and oil revenue management, and to increase Uganda’s domestic funding for public services and the national response to HIV/AIDS,” the State Department noted in March 2022.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned this week that if the law were enacted, Washington would “have to take a look” at imposing economic penalties on Uganda.
“We’re certainly watching this real closely. And we would have to take a look at whether or not there might be repercussions that we would have to take, perhaps in an economic way, should this law actually get passed — enacted,” Kirby told reporters.
Kirby noted that this would be “really unfortunate” since most U.S. aid is in the form of health assistance, especially anti-AIDS assistance.
Same-sex relations in Uganda are already criminalized under a colonial-era penal code. Harsh anti-gay legislation enacted in 2014 later was annulled by a panel of judges amid international condemnation. That bill, in its original draft, had called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts.
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Asuman Basalirwa, who sponsored the new measure in Uganda, said his bill would punish “promotion, recruitment and funding” related to LGBTQ activities.
Homosexuality is already illegal in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.
Fox News’ Lawrence Richard and Julia Musto, as well as The Associated Press, contributed to this article.
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