New guidance has been issued on how best to support Uganda’s LGBT community following assent of the Anti-Homosexuality Law with campaigners warning that general aid cuts to Uganda should be avoided.
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law, based in Kampala, published the document after the recent decision of several countries, and the World Bank, to halt aid donations destined for the Ugandan Government.
The guidelines suggest non-governmental organisations should continue to voice their criticism of the law and the “shrinking and deteriorating policy space that civil society is experiencing; not only about this human rights issue, but about ‘mainstream’ human rights as well”.
It recommends “worldwide demonstrations”, including protests at Uganda’s embassies and church vigils. Multinational companies that have business interests in Uganda should be lobbied into expressing their concerns about the law, passed last month by President Yoweri Museveni.
The document notes that Heneiken, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Barclays Bank, all have trading links in Uganda.
On the question of cutting foreign aid, the Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law states: “Our position on this is very clear. We do not support general aid cuts to Uganda. We do not want the people of Uganda to suffer because of the unfortunate political choices of our government.
“However, we support strategic aid cuts to specific sectors, such as the Dutch Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the Justice Sector.
“We encourage urgent review of aid to organisations and government institutions that have failed to demonstrate respect for human rights and those that have been actively supporting this bill.
“We do not support cuts in support to NGO’s and other civil society institutions that offer lifesaving health services or other important social services to the people of Uganda”.
The Coalition also calls for governments around the world to accept LGBT citizens fleeing persecution, and that existing asylum polices need to take into account of the new situation in Uganda.
Arrests of LGBT Ugandans should be treated as a matter of “urgent action” – the Coalition suggests this could include “sending messages to the Uganda Government to protest such arrests, use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, to raise awareness that arrests have happened” and also by notifying government embassies.