Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's subcommittee on International Trade, has threatened to reverse Uganda's advantageous trade status if it approves a proposed bill that would strengthen the criminal penalties for having gay sex in the African country.

Wyden has advised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to communicate to the Ugandan government that a preferred trade status would be “revoked should the proposed legislation be enacted” in a letter delivered Tuesday.

Wyden, a Democrat, said the country would be in violation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which requires that beneficiaries not engage in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Ugandan imports to the United States enjoy a duty-free status under the law.

The move is widely believed to be the first proposed U.S. sanction against MP David Bahati's bill that would outlaw gay sex and which includes a death penalty provision for repeat offenders and people who are HIV-positive, increasing the penalties for having gay sex in a country where it's already a crime. The bill also makes the “promotion of homosexuality” illegal, which would effectively ban political organizations, broadcasters and publishers that advocate on behalf of gay rights, and turn friends and family members of gay men and lesbians into criminals if they fail to report a violation.

Obama officials have rejected calls to use PEPFAR funding as leverage to discourage the bill's passage. Uganda is among the program's 15 focus countries that share billions of dollars for AIDS education. Congress has allocated roughly $48 billion to fund the program from 2008 to 2013.

Wyden also announced he would sponsor legislation that would add LGBT protections to trade agreements.

“I intend to sponsor legislation to amend U.S. trade preference programs, including AGOA, to make clear that failure to appropriately respect sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights shall preclude a country from benefiting from any U.S. trade preference scheme,” Wyden said in his letter.

“Before us is a concrete opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to ending violence and discrimination against LGBT persons worldwide,” he added.