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US imposes visa restrictions on Uganda government officials for passing anti-LGBTQ law

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Last Updated on July 18, 2023 by Fellow Press

The United States has imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan government officials after the country’s parliament passed an anti-LGBTQ law that has been condemned by many countries and the United Nations.

The law was enacted in May and carries the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” an offence that includes transmitting HIV through gay sex.

The law also imposes a life sentence for same-sex intercourse and a 20-year sentence for promotion of homosexuality.

Firms including media and non-governmental organizations that knowingly promote LGBTQ activity will also incur harsh fines, the law says.

The law drew immediate rebukes from the Western and put some of the billions of dollars in foreign aid the country receives each year in jeopardy.

After the law was passed, U.S. President Joe Biden threatened aid cuts and other sanctions, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month the government would consider visa restrictions against Ugandan officials.

On Friday, June 16, the State Department released a statement saying it had given visa restrictions but did not mention any names or even the number of officials that would be hit with the visa restriction .

The statement said the U.S. would hold accountable those who are responsible for abusing human rights in Uganda, “including those of LGBTQI+ persons.”

The State Department also updated its Uganda travel guidance for U.S. citizens to highlight the risk that LGBTQI+ persons could be prosecuted and subjected to life imprisonment or the death penalty based on provisions in the law, it said.

“The United States strongly supports the Ugandan people and remains committed to advancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Uganda and globally,” the State Department said.

Homosexuality was already illegal in the East African country, and homosexuals faced ostracism and regular harassment by security forces, the Us department added.

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Emmanuel Macron announces dissolution of National Assembly

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Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Fellow Press

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the dissolution of the National Assembly, following defeat of his party in 2024 European Parliament (EP) elections, according to local media report.

“I have decided to give you back the choice of your parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly,” Macron said in a short speech.

“This is a serious, weighty decision. But it is above all an act of trust,” he added.

He added that the elections to the National Assembly are to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.
Macron’s Renaissance party gained 15.2 per cent of the votes in 2024 European Parliament elections, far behind far-right National Rally who received 31.8 per cent.

“The unprecedented gap between the presidential majority and the leading opposition party reflects a stinging disavowal and rejection of the policies led by Emmanuel Macron,” RN President Jordan Bardella said after the EP elections results were unveiled, quoted by local media.

“We’re ready for it. I call on French people to join us in forming around the RN a majority in the service of the only cause that guides our steps: France.” parliamentary party leader of RN, Marine Le Pen, said Sunday evening on social media platform X.

The EP elections were held from June 6 to June 9, with voters of the 27 EU member states selecting 720 lawmakers to the 10th EP.

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UN adds Israel to blacklist

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Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Fellow Press

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Israel’s military to a global list of offenders that have committed violations against children, his spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Israel had been told it is being placed on the list in the secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict, to be sent to the UN Security Council next Friday, Stephane Dujarric told a press briefing.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also added to the list, according to a diplomatic source, along with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Dujarric added that the Israeli UN mission was called by Guterres’ chief of staff on Friday, a courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed. “It is done to give those countries a heads-up and avoid leaks,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan recorded a video of himself making a phone call from his office, apparently to a UN official, and leaked part of it on social media.

In the video, Erdan expressed outrage at the UN decision, calling the IDF “the most moral army in the world.”

“The only one who is blacklisted today is the secretary-general, whose decisions since the war started, and even before, are rewarding terrorists and incentivizing them to use children for terror acts… Shame on him!”

Dujarric said it was “shocking and unacceptable” that Erdan had apparently published the private call, saying it was “something he had never seen in my 24 years serving this organization.”

Israel’s inclusion on the list comes after eight months of war in Gaza, in which more than 15,500 children have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health in the enclave.

The war was sparked by a Hamas-led assault on Israel on October 7, which killed 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage. Many are still in captivity and Hamas’ top leadership is still at large despite the Israeli onslaught.

The UN’s so-called blacklist has previously included countries such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the decision to add Israel to the list “will not bring back tens of thousands of our children who were killed by Israel over decades and will not restore normal life for the children who were permanently disabled by its actions.”

“But it is an important step in the right direction towards ending the double standards and the culture of impunity Israel has enjoyed for far too long and that left our children vulnerable to its consequences.”

The annual report will go to the Security Council on June 14. The official report will be published on June 18. It will be discussed at a debate in the council on June 26.

Asked about ramifications, the UN spokesman said it will be up to the members to decide any action.

The war has seen Israel-UN relations reach historic lows with Israeli diplomats using their platforms at the UN to denounce the world body.

Israel’s quarrel with the UN has gone beyond the secretary-general. Israeli officials have also criticized the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the World Health Organization, UN Women, and the UN’s Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese.

Meanwhile, dozens of UN staffers have been killed in Gaza since the conflict began, the largest loss in the world body’s history.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of anti-Israeli incitement, which UNRWA has repeatedly denied, and in 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to dismantle the UN body, saying it should be merged with the main UN refugee agency.

Since the October 7 attack, Israeli journalists and news outlets have refocused their attention on UNRWA and have amplified stories questioning its role in the war.

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