The trade and development minister, Mogens Jensen (S), has decided to immediately pull part of the development aid that Denmark sends to Uganda following president Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign the controversial anti-gay law.
Jensen had just days ago warned the president of the ramifications of the law being signed and now he will make sure that Denmark redirects 50 million kroner away from aid programmes run by the Ugandan government, and also that development aid will in the future circumvent the Ugandan state.
“I cannot distance myself enough from the law and the signal that the Ugandan government is sending to persecuted minorities and the world,” Jensen said in a press release. “I’ve decided to redirect about 50 million kroner of the Danish aid away from programmes run by the Ugandan government and over to activities in the private sector and civil society organisations.”
Still supporting civil society
As of now, Denmark supports Uganda with 310 million kroner annually: some 100 million kroner was earmarked for government-run projects, while the rest went to civil organisations. Jensen said that in the future all aid would funnel through international organisations, the private sector and civil society.
“I will of course preserve our support to Ugandan civil society, which includes local organisations that work for democracy and human rights,” Jensen said. “I will also maintain our current involvement in specific water and infrastructure projects, even if they are government-run.”
An African trend
Jensen contended that the government’s persecution of gay people should not affect the poor Ugandans who need clean drinking water and access to schools and health clinics.
The Uganda anti-gay law, also known as the ‘Kill the gay bill’, further stiffens Ugandan legislation that is already tough on homosexuality.
The law means that ‘first time offences’ of homosexuality will merit up to 14 years in prison, while lifetime sentences will be handed out for ‘grievous homosexuality’, which includes repeated displays of homosexuality, having homosexual sex with minors and invalids, and having homosexual sex while HIV-infected. It will also be a crime to publicly defend homosexuals and to encourage gay relationships.
Anti-gay legislation is not only a rising issue in Uganda, but throughout the African continent. According to a recent report from human rights watchdog Amnesty International, 38 African nations have legislation that forbids homosexuality and a number of them have toughened their laws in recent years.