Uganda: Donors Who Withheld Aid ’Misinterpreted’ Anti-Gay Bill
The Ugandan government now says that international donors who withheld aid because of their anti-gay bill have "misinterpreted" the law, whose main focus was to "stop the promotion of homosexuality to children and others," reports Pink News.
"Its enactment has been misinterpreted as a piece of legislation intended to punish and discriminate against people of a ’homosexual orientation’, especially by our development partners," read a statement released on Tuesday July 1 by the Ugandan government.
It was reported on February 24, that the law calls for LGBTs to be sentenced to 14-years in prison and makes it a criminal offense not to report someone for being gay. It also sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a category of offenses called "aggravated homosexuality," defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults as well as acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV.
The law has been widely and internationally condemned, causing many countries to cut off aid to Uganda, or redirected it other groups. Ofwono Opondo, a spokesman for Uganda’s government, said the aid cuts show Ugandans "that the world does not owe them a living."
"It’s actually a trap for dependence," he said, talking about donor support. "It’s actually good that they removed the aid, so that we can live within the means we have."
Apparently, the Ugandan government is rethinking that strategy. The Independent reports that along with "a wave of international criticism," the bill resulted in the cutting of about $1.6 billion in aid.
Now, the government has stated that "Uganda reaffirms that no activities of individuals, groups, companies or organizations will be affected by the act," although the Independent maintains that is "seems unclear as to how gay people can avoid being prosecuted under the new law."