The United States has imposed sanctions on Uganda for its anti-gay laws in what will be seen as a signal to Nigeria which passed a similar legislation this year.
Ugandan government officials involved in the implementation of the law will be denied American visas, while the country’s various supports for Uganda will either be cancelled or reduced.
The US will also discontinue or redirect funds for certain programmes involving the Ugandan Police Force, National Public Health Institute and Ministry of Health.
A proposed military aviation exercise has already been cancelled.
Western countries, including the US, had stopped about $118 million in aid to Uganda economy before Thursday’s announcement.
The White House said in a statement that the measures were intended to “reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity”.
The Ugandan anti-law, which was signed in February by President Yoweri Museveni, provides life imprisonment for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” while the “promotion of homosexuality” is also criminalised.
The Nigerian version of the law, signed in January 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan, prescribes a 14-year jail term for gays and lesbians.
Operating or participating in gay clubs, societies and organisations “directly or indirectly” is punishable by 10-year imprisonment.
A similar jail term awaits those who “administer, witness, abet or aid the solemnisation of a same sex marriage”.
Despite protests by Western countries, Nigeria has insisted the law will not be repealed, but no sanctions have yet been imposed on the country.
US secretary of state John Kerry said at the time that the US was “deeply concerned” by the law.
“Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly… and expression for all Nigerians. It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines… democratic reforms and human rights protections,” he said.
It is not yet clear if the US will take action against Nigeria, but if the Uganda sanctions are replicated, the country could be hit in many ways.
Nigeria currently enjoys military aid from the US, part of which is geared towards combating Boko Haram and improving the capability of the armed forces through training and technical support.
A visa ban could hit many Nigerian government officials who travel frequently to the US for various programmes.
Some own landed property and businesses there, and many of them are known to have relocated their families to the US because of insecurity back home.
Nigeria is also seeking important positions at the United Nations.
Last week, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand decried the nomination of Uganda’s foreign minister to be president of the UN General Assembly.
She said it would be “disturbing to see the foreign minister of a country that passed an unjust, harsh and discriminatory law” preside over the UN body.
Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden have cut aid to Uganda because of the law.