‘Kill the Gays’ law wouldn’t end Danish aid to Uganda

A Danish official on a visit to Uganda said last week that his country will not cut off aid to the country even if Uganda enacts the harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Christian Friis Bach (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Christian Friis Bach (Photo by Mogens Engelund via Wikimedia Commons)

Denmark would continue to “work together with the people of Uganda, to support human rights for everybody” even if the bill is enacted, said Christian Friis Bach, Danish minister of development cooperation.

The United Kingdom has threatened to cut off aid to countries with anti-homosexuality laws, but LGBT activists in Uganda says that such statements can backfire.

Threatening to cut aid can “lead to scapegoating of the LGBTI community as well as Human Rights Defenders working with LGBTI rights and whip up sentiments for the Bill,” according to a coalition of Ugandan activists.

In an interview with Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Bach said that Uganda would be better off if it protected human rights because doing so allows countries to “build stronger, equal and wealthy societies.”

This is a portion of the Daily Monitor interview about LGBT issues:

In our penal code, which was crafted by British colonial masters, homosexuality is a crime. Do you actually see Western governments as part of the problem in this?

Definitely, we have [been part of the problem], but you should not always listen to what we say. But when it comes to international human rights, it’s not about what we say; it is a question of core international human rights and principles, and if you obey them you build stronger, equal and wealthy societies. And that is what can bring about change in Uganda.

If the Ugandan Parliament passes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, what will be the likely ramifications for the country’s bilateral relations with Denmark?

We again here threaten not to run away, but stay and engage because we believe in critical constructive dialogue between people. Of course, we would have to look at our development cooperation and say, if Uganda moves in the direction of cautioning human rights, how can we work together with the people of Uganda, to support human rights for everybody?

Bach was also asked about alleged recruitment and promotion of homosexuality. For a discussion of that topic and Bach’s answers about it, see the blog post “Gay recruiters in Uganda? A missed chance for truth.”

Much of the interview was about corruption in Uganda, including $2 million in Danish funds as part of an embezzlement fraud valued at 60 billion Ugandan shillings ($3.8 million).

“I have said when I have been pushed by the (Danish) Parliament to withdraw aid from Uganda, I am not threatening to withdraw, but I am threatening to stay; to engage and make sure that we have progress to the benefit of the people,” Bach said.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, nicknamed the “Kill the Gays” bill, has not yet been considered by the full Ugandan parliament. In the first version of the bill, which reportedly remains unchanged despite supporters’ statements to the contrary, people who repeatedly engage in homosexual behavior would be executed.

Ugandan law already provides for sentences of up to life imprisonment for homosexual activity.

The bill would require people to report suspected homosexuals to police. Parents would be required to report potentially gay children to police; doctors would be required to report potentially gay patients; priests would be required to report potentially gay parishioners.

Organizations serving LGBT people, including health services fighting AIDS, would be outlawed.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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