Development minister warns Uganda over anti-gay law

Gays in Uganda could face life in prison if the law is signed

Mogens Jensen (S), the trade and development minister, has appealed to Ugandan President Yowei Museveni to not sign a controversial anti-gay law that would make it possible to sentence people to life imprisonment for being homosexual in Uganda.

Jensen contacted Museveni directly and warned that signing the law would have consequences for Denmark’s involvement in the Africa nation and the substantial development aid it sends it.

“I’ve written to President Museveni and strongly urged him not to sign this extreme law. If the president signs the law, Uganda will be adopting an initiative that is contrary to international conventions that Uganda has signed and ensure equal rights for everyone in society,” Jensen said in a press release. “I made it clear to the president that his decision will have consequences for Denmark’s involvement in Uganda.”

Jensen said that he intended to call the Ugandan ambassador to Denmark, Zaake Wanume Kibedi, to a meeting to further explain the seriousness of the issue.

“Along with its international partners, including the Nordic countries and the EU, Denmark will work towards compiling a joint reaction from the international community that will become effective as soon as possible,” Jensen said.

READ MORE: Ugandan aid in jeopardy after passage of anti-gay bill

"It can be unlearnt"
The Ugandan parliament originally approved the controversial law back in December 2013, but Museveni has hesitated to sign it in while Ugandan scientists looked into whether homosexuality is genetic or an active choice.

“Their unanimous conclusion was that homosexuality, contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioural and not genetic,” Museveni wrote in a statement published in the Ugandan newspaper New Vision. “It was learnt and could be unlearnt.  I told them to put their signatures to that conclusion, which they did.  That is why I declared my intention to sign the bill, which I will do.”

The law in Uganda forbids homosexuality, and the new law would also forbid the promotion of gay rights by punishing anyone who supports, sponsors or encourages homosexuality.

Denmark gives about 310 million kroner annually to Uganda in development aid.