European Nations Suspend Aid to Uganda After Controversial Anti-Gay Law

Danayit Musse

 In protest of the controversial anti-gay bill signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s on Monday, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway have decided to suspend aid to the sub-Saharan African nation. The “draconian law” contains punishments of 14 years in prison for first time offenders of “homosexual acts”. Convictions for “aggravated homosexuality” carry a sentence of life in prison. The Wall Street Journal reports: On first conviction for so-called homosexual acts, offenders face a 14-year prison sentence. Subsequent convictions for "aggravated homosexuality," which include homosexual acts committed by an HIV-positive person, could bring a penalty of life in prison. An official at the Norwegian embassy in Kampala said that the measure would immediately affect at least $8 million in aid to Uganda's legal system. Norway extends more than $64 million to Uganda every year. The bulk of western aid has been going directly to the Ugandan government, which would then earmark it for spending in different departments—notably, health, education and the military. The Netherlands and Denmark said they would redirect nearly $20 million of aid to Ugandan-based private aid agencies and rights groups. The U.S. and Canada, some of the Uganda's largest donors, said they had started reviewing their relationship with Kampala. The diplomatic moves represented the first fallout of Uganda's controversial antigay bill. Although the bill is politically popular in Uganda, it could cost the government of President Yoweri Museveni. Western donors give up to $2 billion in aid to the country. In 2011, a well-known Ugandan gay activist was killed after tabloid included his name in list of gay people. On Tuesday, another Ugandan tabloid, The Red Pepper, printed a list of Uganda’s “top 200 homosexuals,” leaving gay activists fearing similar acts of retaliation. “The newspapers are inciting the public against homosexuals and unfortunately, government cannot protect us,” Kash Jacqueline, a Ugandan gay activist, told the Wall Street Journal.

Danayit Musse is a Spring 2014 editorial intern.
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