Uganda’s Draconian Anti-Gay Law Is Making Countries Rethink Aid

Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands have already cut over $26 million in aid

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Edward Echwalu / Reuters

Ugandan anti-gay activist Pastor Martin Ssempa (C) leads anti-gay supporters as they celebrate after Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signed a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality in Kampala February 24, 2014.

Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands have vowed to stop more than $26 million in aid to Uganda after the East African country’s president signed a bill that imposes appalling penalties for homosexual acts.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said the law “will worsen the situation of an already vulnerable group, and criminalize individuals and organizations working for the rights of sexual minorities.”

The law includes life imprisonment for repeated acts of gay sex,  seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality” and requires Ugandans to report homosexuals to the authorities.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Uganda to repeal the law, which has been widely criticized by governments and human rights groups. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the passing of the law was “a tragic day” for those who valued human rights.

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, has meanwhile proposed halting Washington’s aid to Uganda, which amounts to $456.3 million aid a year.

“We need to closely review all U.S. assistance to Uganda, including through the World Bank and other multilateral organizations,” he said on Tuesday. Canadian officials echoed his sentiments.