Ireland has announced it will continue to give financial aid to Uganda despite its anti-homosexuality law.

David Cooney, Department of Foreign Affairs secretary general, said cutting off aid would be the wrong course of action to take.

“Whatever about the action of the [Ugandan] Government,” he said. “We do not feel that it would be appropriate to cut off our assistance that is going to directly to these people.”

The minister stated that Irish aid was not going to assist Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, or the country’s parliament, but was instead going directly to the people of Uganda, particularly helping projects on HIV/AIDS.

He said Irish Deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste) Eamon Gilmore had been very clear in condemning the decision of President Museveni to approve the law last month.

Mr Cooney recalled how Ireland, under former prime minister (Taoiseach) Albert Reynolds, secured billions in EU funding during the early 1990s – when homosexuality was still illegal in Ireland.

“We have come a long way in this country over a short period,” Mr Cooney said. “It’s a matter of education and bringing people along… I don’t think our reaction should be that we would cease aid.”

Sweden announced on Wednesday that it would cut aid donations to Uganda because of the anti-homosexuality law.

New guidance was this week issued on how best to support Uganda’s LGBT community following assent of the law with campaigners warning that general aid cuts to Uganda should be avoided.

The World Bank halted a £54m loan to Uganda because of the law last month.

The law calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.