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Goal: No more money for Ugandan homophobes from UK, US, Ikea, UN and EU

Goal: No more money for Ugandan homophobes from UK, US, Ikea, UN and EU

Inter-Religious Council of Uganda is a prime target.

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Stephen Kaziimba, archbishop of the Church of Uganda, is chair of the Council of Presidents of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Watchdog Uganda)
Stephen Kaziimba, archbishop of the Church of Uganda, is chair of the Council of Presidents of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Watchdog Uganda)


British, American and other international funding for anti-LGBTQ organizations in Uganda has come in for scrutiny and condemnation in the wake of a new report about how much foreign aid supports Ugandan homophobia.

Prominent among those anti-LGBTQ organizations is the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), which contributed to the nation’s current anti-gay panic by promoting fears of “the growing spread of homosexuality” and the effect of “the LGBTQ agenda” on children.

IRCU leader Stephen Kaziimba, archbishop of the Church of Uganda, recently supported President Yoweri Museveni’s request to Parliament to amend this year’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Kaziimba said the bill, which calls for life sentences for same-sex intercourse and the death penalty for repeat offenders, should be strengthened to provide “greater protection for children and youth from grooming” and to further restrict “promotion of LGBTQ+ relationships”. He also appealed for renewed enforcement of Uganda’s existing anti-gay law, which also calls for life in prison for homosexual activity.

The Guardian reported:

UK government funded anti-LGBTQ+ organisation in Uganda, says report

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, which is openly homophobic, has been a direct recipient of UK aid money

The UK government has been helping to fund the work of a virulently homophobic religious organisation in Uganda, whose leaders have backed a proposed law that would make identifying as gay a criminal offence, a report has found.

Analysing official data given to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), the report by the Institute for Journalism and Social Change (IJSC) found a “staggering” number of connections between anti-LGBTQ+ organisations in Uganda and international aid donors, including the UK.

According to IATI submissions, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), an inter-faith body,has been a direct recipient of UK aid money in its capacity as “implementing partner” of a programme that aims to deliver the Foreign Office’s “ambition for an open society in Uganda”.

In February, members of the IRCU, including the Church of Uganda and several evangelical churches, signed a statement expressing “great concern” over “the growing spread of homosexuality” in Uganda, and the effect of “the LGBTQ agenda” on the wellbeing of children.

Two weeks later, the anti-homosexuality bill 2023 was introduced into parliament in an effort to broaden the country’s anti-gay legislation, and last month it was passed by the Ugandan parliament, with 387 out of 389 MPs voting in favour.

The Foreign Office (FCDO) has confirmed it provided funding to the IRCU from 2021 until earlier this year. FCDO data indicates that, as part of a programme called Uganda – Open Society, which began in June 2021 and is due to run until March 2024, the amount paid to the organisation totalled £134,900.

However a spokesperson said that, following comments made by the IRCU in relation to the anti-homosexuality bill, the UK decided in February to stop the funding.

Volker Türk, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Volker Türk, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

The proposed law, which was condemned as “probably among the worst of its kind in the world” by the UN human rights chief, Volker Türk, imposes capital and life-imprisonment sentences for gay sex, up to 14 years for “attempted” homosexuality, and 20 years in jail for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”.

Museveni has come under pressure from the US to veto the bill, with a government official warning that if it became law the Biden administration would consider potential “repercussions … perhaps in an economic way”. The US provides more than $950m (£770m) a year to the African nation.

Vice World News reported:

The council lost US aid funding in 2014 during the Obama administration after it came out in support of Uganda’s anti-gay law, and was extremely influential in getting the bill retabled in February 2023. [which is when the U.K. cut off funding]. …

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The lead US government agency that administers aid [USAID] and is also named in this report, told its author that “the USAID regularly reviews and assesses the work of our partners to ensure they are operating in a manner that is consistent with our values and takes appropriate actions in response. We take these commitments seriously and are looking into the matter further.”

As these are ongoing projects, it is not clear how much more money the IRCU may receive before they end.

Other countries highlighted for their grants to Ugandan anti-LGBTQ religious groups since 2014 include the US, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway and Ireland, as well as the EU.

“Religion is the backbone of the anti-LGBT bill,” Edward Mutebi, a Ugandan activist and refugee who works with the Centre of Feminist Foreign Policy, told VICE World News: “The Ugandan churches have not stopped at anything, but shamefully went head to support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and 2023 of which both called for death sentence of victims.”

The report also explores funding from the UN organisations UNDP and UNFPA as well as from private foundations, including the IKEA Foundation. It discusses the IKEA Foundation’s donations amounting around $70,000 in the last decade to a funding project that included the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Uganda as an implementing partner.

In 2021, a Pentecostal Assemblies of God Uganda pastor said: “The Pentecostal Assemblies of God sees homosexuality as one of the immoral and ungodly acts that the Church needs to preach against and discourage.”

A spokesperson from the IKEA Foundation told VICE World News: “The project you refer to is related to a grant for Oxfam in 2016 to strengthen the capacity of local and national humanitarian organisations in Uganda to lead emergency response. It was aimed at building local ability to respond to communities’ needs before, during and after crises through innovative funding and partnership models, such as cash and forecast-based financing. This project ended in 2021 and is no longer active.

“In this case our grant was to Oxfam and we trusted Oxfam to identify the implementors, alliances and networks on the ground to achieve the project aims. The grant’s objective was to strengthen local capacity in the context of emergency response. This particular project involved 60 local and national groups in Uganda that were sub contracted by Oxfam including Pentecostal Assemblies of God. As our funding cannot be used to promote or advance any religious beliefs, we have approached Oxfam to understand more about the nature of this collaboration.”

“Any abuse is unacceptable and goes against the values we stand for. All our partners undergo a rigorous due diligence process and contractually commit to respect human rights, comply with applicable laws, and respect the principles and standards laid down in the IKEA Foundation Ethical Framework. In addition, our partners have an obligation to report any violations of said principles and standards, including violations by implementing partners.”

View Comment (1)
  • The US should only be funding organizations that fight hate and promote acceptance and understanding. Clearly, Christian organizations and leaders in Uganda promote hate and violence against LGBTQ people and families. Therefore all US funding to such organizations should immediately stop. The funding should be redirected to where it can effectively combat such religious hate.

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