US Secretary of State John Kerry says his country is now reviewing its relations with Uganda, following President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign anti-gay legislation.
The law calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.
Lesbians are covered by the bill for the first time.
“This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law,” John Kerry said in a statement.
“The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda’s Human Rights Commission itself has recognised are enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution
“Today’s signing threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda.”
Mr Kerry continued: “We are also deeply concerned about the law’s potential to set back public health efforts in Uganda, including those to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective.
“As President Obama stated, this legislation is not just morally wrong, it complicates a valued relationship. Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programmes, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values.
“From Nigeria to Russia and Uganda, we are working globally to promote and protect the human rights of all persons. The United States will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalise, criminalise, and penalise vulnerable persons in any society.”
Politicians and campaigners around the world have strongly criticised President Musevni.