U.S. Updates Travel Advisory for Uganda: Concerns over Crime, Terrorism, and Anti-LGBTQI+ Legislation

In light of recent developments, the United States has revised its travel advisory for Uganda, urging travelers to reconsider their plans due to concerns over crime, terrorism, and newly enacted anti-LGBTQI+ legislation. The advisory, updated to reflect the May 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act, highlights the potential risks faced by LGBTQI+ individuals and those perceived to be LGBTQI+ in the country.

According to the advisory, Uganda continues to face a threat of terrorist attacks, with incidents occurring both in the capital city of Kampala and in villages across the region. While the attacks have not specifically targeted foreign nationals, the advisory emphasizes the importance of remaining alert and avoiding large public gatherings.

The advisory also draws attention to the serious issue of violent crime in Uganda, including armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault. Travelers are urged to exercise caution, particularly in major cities like Kampala and Entebbe, as well as in the Karamoja region and along the country’s western and northern borders. Local law enforcement agencies may face challenges in effectively responding to such crimes due to resource limitations.

However, the most significant addition to the travel advisory is the mention of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The law imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment and capital punishment, for consensual same-sex relations and “aggravated homosexuality” offenses. It also allows for mandatory reporting of suspected violations, potentially leading to harassment, attacks, or prosecution of LGBTQI+ individuals and those supporting their rights. The advisory cautions against any public identification with the LGBTQI+ community, as it could serve as grounds for prosecution, and highlights the risks faced by both youth and those attending same-sex marriages.

The U.S. Department of State advises travelers to take precautionary measures while in Uganda, such as not leaving food and drinks unattended in public, staying with a group of friends in public spaces, and exercising vigilance when walking or driving at night. Additional recommendations include avoiding displays of wealth, enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and carrying copies of important travel documents.