Some say the U.S. has a double standard when it comes to speaking out against anti-gay laws worldwide. So does America arbitrarily bully African countries that have laws that are against homosexuality while not saying anything to Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich allies?
President Joe Biden was quite outspoken when Uganda passed an anti-gay law earlier this year and re-enacted it with slight changes in May. In fact, he called for the country to immediately repeal the severe law. Biden warned he might impose sanctions and other penalties in response, Axios reported.
Meanwhile, Biden enjoyed a fist pound with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation that criminalizes “merely identifying” as LGBTQ and enforces severe punishments for violations related to same-sex relations, including the possibility of the death penalty.
Bide immediately spoke out. “This shameful Act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda,” Biden said in a statement on the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
“The dangers posed by this democratic backsliding are a threat to everyone residing in Uganda, including U.S. government personnel, the staff of our implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community, and others,” he added.
The U.S. also updated its “travel guidance to American citizens and to U.S. businesses as well as to consider deploying existing visa restrictions tools against Ugandan officials and other individuals for abuse of universal human rights, including the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”
And, Biden said he’s he directed National Security Council officials “to evaluate the implications” of the anti-gay law “on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda.”
Uganda’s anti-gay law caused the Biden administration officials will also review Uganda’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The act gives select sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the U.S. market for hundreds of products.
Uganda isn’t the only African country that Biden has called out for anti-gay laws.
Biden also threatened financial, visa sanctions against Nigeria, Nigerian media outlet Daily Post reported. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex-Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January 2014. Under the law, a person can be sentenced to between 10 and 14 years in prison if caught co-habituating with a same-sex sexual partner, participating in a public show of a same-sex relationship, as well as the registration, operation, or participation in gay clubs, societies, and organization.
In 2021, Biden signed the Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World directs American agencies operating abroad “to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”
“To further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally,” Biden said in a speech about the directive.
But Biden didn’t seem to bring out this directive to America’s oil-rich allies such as Saudi Arabia. And when Biden was in the Middle Eastern country, he greeted the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, with a buddy-buddy fist bump.
Biden faced criticism for the fist-bump, but not due to Saudi Arabia’s poor gay rights but because of the Crown Prince’s alleged involvement in the 2018 murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had become an American citizen.
In Saudi Arabia, LGBT people face severe repression and legal challenges. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal. The law punishes acts of homosexuality with capital punishment, up to life imprisonment, fines, deportation and flogging, which is when a person is beaten with a whip or a stick.
While in May 2023, the Saudi Tourism Authority website has updated its FAQ page stating that LGBTQ visitors are welcome to visit Saudi Arabia, homosexuality remains illegal in the country.
President Joe Biden with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman, July 18, 2022, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: CBS News screenshot, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qkP_0kN44Y)