Uganda donors cut aid after president passes anti-gay law

Norway and Denmark cut aid, while others including US review budgets over law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality

Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, signs into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people. Photograph: Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images
Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, signs into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people. Photograph: Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images

Martin Plaut

(the guardian) Once regarded as an example of enlightened African leadership, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, is currently something of an international pariah. His decision to sign a bill into law that imposes harsh penalties for homosexuality has resulted in cuts to the country’s generous aid budget.

The US described the adoption of the law as a tragic day for Uganda, and the secretary of state, John Kerry, announced that “all dimensions” of US engagement with the country would be reviewed, including the aid budget.

Britain is not following suit. The Department for International Development said all direct support to the Ugandan government had been cut in November after a corruption scandal, but a spokesman said the £97.9m in this year’s budget would not be withheld. “The UK remains committed to supporting the people of Uganda,” he said. The money will now be channelled through alternative routes, including international aid agencies that met the UK’s human rights principles.

Other European donors have taken a tougher line. Norway said it would be withholding $8m in development aid, and Denmark will divert $9m away from the government. “We cannot distance ourselves too strongly from the law and the signal that the Ugandan government now sends to not only persecuted minority groups, but to the whole world,” the Danish trade and development minister, Mogens Jensen, said. Austria said it was reviewing its assistance.

Uganda has traditionally been one of the largest recipients of international aid. According to the Overseas Development Institute, the country received $1.6bn (£960m) in 2011, making it the world’s 20th largest aid recipient. Between 2006 and 2010 the US was the biggest donor, providing $1.7bn, followed by Britain with $694m. Read more on the guardian…

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