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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 09
Uganda loses aid money after anti-Gay law is signed - Museveni still defiant
Section One
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Uganda loses aid money after anti-Gay law is signed - Museveni still defiant

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Even as European countries begin to withdraw foreign aid money from Uganda, its president Yoweri Museveni remains defiant after signing a tough new anti-Gay law.

Al Jazeera news service reported on February 24 that the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark would redirect money formerly given to Museveni's government.

The Netherlands froze a $9.6 million subsidy to Uganda's legal system, saying that 'if the judiciary is to enforce such laws, we do not wish to assist that process.'

Denmark and Norway, each of which give Uganda $8.5 million in aid, said they would redirect money towards private sector initiatives, aid agencies, and human rights organizations.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposed suspending all $485 million of U.S. aid to Uganda.

'I am deeply concerned by the decision of President (Yoweri) Museveni of Uganda to sign into law the anti-homosexuality bill,' Leahy said in a statement. 'Much of U.S. assistance to Uganda is for the people of Uganda, including those in the Ugandan LGBT community whose human rights are being so tragically violated.'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is 'beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values.'

'The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda,' Kerry said in a statement. 'For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda's Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are enshrined in Uganda's Constitution.'

The White House press office also issued a statement condemning the law, which allows for life in prison for anyone convicted of being Gay.

'As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS,' the White House said.

'We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.'

According to The Associated Press, Uganda depends on foreign aid money for about 20% of its budget. Nevertheless, Museveni appeared defiant in a CNN interview after the signing.

'They're disgusting,' Museveni said of Gay people. 'What sort of people are they? I never knew what they were doing. I've been told recently that what they do is terrible. Disgusting. But I was ready to ignore that if there was proof that that's how he is born, abnormal. But now the proof is not there.'

Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo told Reuters news agency that by signing the anti-Gay bill, Museveni wanted 'to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation.'

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