Swedish development assistance minister Gunilla Carlsson reportedly suggested that her country could cut aid funding in Uganda as a result of a proposed law on homosexuality.
Speaking to Swedish Radio news this weekend, Carlsson reportedly called the bill “appalling” and suggested that the $50 million given by Sweden to Uganda each year in aid could be jeopardised.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in Uganda’s parliament this autumn. It calls for life imprisonment for anyone convicted of having gay sex, or execution for those who have gay sex with minors and disabled people. Anyone who works in gay rights organisations or does not report homosexual activity to police could also be jailed.
On the topic of aid funding, Carlsson said: “My number two at the ministry, who has direct contact with the Ugandan government, has brought it up. We’ve talked about it in Uganda, and i’ve also tried to speak to the kind of organisations in Uganda that are the target of the legislation
“It will be made much more difficult. We’ve had situations in other countries where we’ve had to re-channel assistance, to try to work more with NGOs and civil organisations rather than directly with governments, and we also decide to cut down on aid.
“This gets a reaction of course from the government of the country that was receiving the money, but that’s the road I have to take.”
In a statement, Dr Nsaba Buturo, the Ugandan minister for ethics and integrity, hit out at Carlsson’s comments.
He said: “Ever since the bill on homosexuality was presented in parliament, there have been various reactions as well as over-reactions from countries which are annoyed at our independence to enact our laws.
“Consequently, we hear they are threatening to take action against Uganda. It is revealing that support to Uganda literally translated means that it is on condition that Uganda should do the bidding of givers of such support regardless of what Ugandans themselves think.
“It is also revealing that support which would benefit countless number of orphans, children and mothers can be withdrawn simply because government is protecting its citizens against vices such as homosexuality.
“Government has been clear about this matter that homosexuality or homosexual practices will not be promoted, encouraged and recommended to the people of Uganda.”
The bill had its first reading in parliament last month.
Gay rights groups have urged Commonwealth leaders to throw Uganda out of the Commonwealth unless it drops the proposed law.
Countries such as France, the UK and America, along with human rights groups, have condemned it.