Ugandan President Hits Out at 'US Homosexuals' Over Textile Export Ban
13:12 14.09.2023 (Updated: 14:05 14.09.2023)
© AP Photo / Darko VojinovicUganda's President Yoweri Museveni
© AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides some sub-Saharan African countries, including Uganda, with tariff and quota-free access to the US market for textile and agricultural goods. While African states receive, in turn, second-hand clothes from the US. Under the program, the value of Ugandan exports per year hit $200 million.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni blamed "homosexuals in the United States" for hampering the country's textile exports after several American clothing manufacturers stopped buying Ugandan raw materials because of the Anti-Homosexual Act (AHA), signed in late May.
"The homosexuals in the US are interfering with our export of textiles. Some of the orders have been cancelled by the homosexuals there," the president underlined.
A number of firms in the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiative ceased to purchase Uganda's textile due to Uganda' anti-gay legislation, Museveni revealed during Sunday's event.
However, the leader noted that he is not "concerned about that because the money [Ugandans] have been squandering with second-hand clothes, importing other people's fabrics, is much more than what the country is going to earn from the sales to the US."
In addition, Museveni stressed that he wouldn't allow the use of imported fabric, because imports makes the local population "lose jobs" and "money."
"You must use the internally woven fabric. [...] The only thing that I will allow to import is polyester, as we are not making it yet," he said.
The public affairs officer at the US Mission in Uganda, Ellen Masi, stressed that the United States had previously clarified that the enactment of the so-called anti-gay law would impact Uganda's economic prospects, the media said.
"On March 28, more than 35 major multinational companies, including those with operations and employees in Uganda, released a statement highlighting the negative repercussions the AHA will have on their ability to do business in Uganda," she highlighted.
The envoy reportedly added that "the enactment of the AHA could deter foreign companies from doing business here in Uganda."
In late May, Museveni signed the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. It carries the death penalty for some violations, and "propaganda of homosexuality" is punishable by 20 years in prison.
According to Asuman Basalirwa, the lawmaker who introduced the bill, its purpose is to protect the cultural, religious and family values of the Ugandan people "from acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country."
In response to the enactment of the law, in June, the United States imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials and US President Joe Biden threatened aid cuts and other punitive measures against the African country.
Moreover, following in Washington's footsteps, the World Bank suspended loans to Uganda in August on the grounds that the law "contradicts" its values. The financial institution's decision was condemned by Museveni, who called these actions an attempt to "coerce Uganda into abandoning its faith, culture, principles and sovereignty, using money."