Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi
A coalition of human rights groups in Uganda has urged the world to not block financial donor aid as a means to respond to the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.
This request was included in suggested guidelines for individuals or groups opposed to the oppressive law, issued by the Kampala-based Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
The coalition called on the international community to continue to speak out against the law “in terms of security of the LGBTI community, their allies, and the general implications of the act on the work around public health and human rights in general.”
On the matter of cutting donor aid, the coalition said it does not support general aid cuts to Uganda or to NGOs and other civil society institutions that offer life saving health services or other important social services.
“We do not want the people of Uganda to suffer because of the unfortunate political choices of our government,” said the groups.
However, the coalition will back strategic aid cuts to specific sectors, notably “organisations and government institutions that have failed to demonstrate respect for human rights and those that have been actively supporting this bill.”
The Ugandan government has been defiant in the face of suspended or redirected international aid, such as the $90 million aid freeze announced by the World Bank last week.
According to The Observer, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi acknowledged that the World Bank’s move will have a detrimental effect on Uganda.
“Of course the delay [to release the money] will affect us. These hospitals we had already awarded contracts to builders… If this money does not come you can imagine the consequences, not only the delay in the provision of services but also failure to perform on the side of government,” he said.
“But if they take the money, what can we do? We must live on. We have shown that we can stand on our feet.”
The author of the law, MP David Bahati, told Reuters that possible aid cuts as a consequence of enacting the law “are very much worth it because [the law] will protect our values. I think a society that has no moral values is a contradiction to development.”
He added: “It’s also unfortunate that the World Bank would take such a decision … and create an impression that accepting homosexuality is a condition for World Bank money when it is not.”
Other than aid cuts, the Ugandan human rights coalition suggested other steps that could be taken to support their cause. This includes organising demonstrations against the act in cities around the world and multinational companies that have interests in Uganda expressing their concerns about the law and their future economic engagements in Uganda.
Countries should issue travel advisories to their LGBTI citizens on the dangers of travelling to Uganda and governments should be lobbied to adjust their asylum policy to assist LGBTI people from Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, Cameroon and other countries “in which levels of state-sponsored homophobia are rapidly rising.”
The coalition warned international supporters to be ready to offer urgent help for Ugandan activists given that they “are increasingly liable to being arrested.”
“Urgent actions could include sending messages to the Uganda government to protest such arrests, use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, to raise awareness that arrests have happened, contacting your own embassies in Uganda to voice your concerns,” said the groups.