Uganda is in danger of losing critical Danish development aid as a notorious anti-gay bill returns to its parliamentary agenda.
The development minister, Christian Friis Bach (Radikale), has come under intense fire for his perceived lenient stance to the discrimination and intolerance being promoted by Ugandan officials. Bach told Politiken newspaper that financial threats are ineffectual and outdated and that the best course of action is to maintain a presence in Uganda.
“The proposed law is simply unacceptable and we must do what we can to ensure it fails to pass. The best way to handle this situation is not to threaten to leave, but rather to threaten to stay”, he said.
Denmark’s financial support is of vital importance to Uganda. Between 2010 and 2011, Denmark was the third largest donor to the country.
The anti-gay bill, also ominously referred to as the ‘Kill the gays’ bill, was first introduced in Uganda in late 2009. The bill would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Threats of financial repercussions and sanctions helped to quell the bill then, but it has now popped back up on the Ugandan political agenda.
Søren Pind (Venstre), the former minister of development, was adamant that the Danish position must be clear and uncompromising.
“I informed Uganda last year that consequences would be severe if that bill passed,” he told Politiken. “There must be a clear outcome here. We simply cannot operate in a place where it is legal to kill homosexuals simply because they are homosexuals.”
The controversy surrounding the bill follows in the wake of violence against several prominent activists in Uganda. Last year, David Kato, a leading gay-rights activist, was murdered in Kampala and tensions have once again forced gay advocates, such as award-winning activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, to flee to neighbouring Kenya.
The persecuted homosexual communities in Uganda already face stiff fines and lengthy jail sentences. Although discrimination against homosexuals is a massive issue in Uganda, local campaigners, such as Frank Mugisha from Sexual Minorities Uganda, maintain that it is important that Danish aid to the embattled nation should not be cut.
More: > Here