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OPINION: Uganda

Should the EU and US cut aid due to the country's anti-gay law?


Sweden became the latest country to stop aid to Uganda in response to the African county’s anti-gay legislation. Recently the World Bank postponed $90m in aid, citing the discriminatory law as the reason for it. A spokesman for the World Bank said "We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law."

The Ugandan oppression of homosexuals, which permits life in prison for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ has drawn condemnation from around the world including Desmond Tutu who compared it to the anti-Semitic treatment of Jewish people by Nazis, while US Secretary of State John Kerry has made similar comparison with 1930s Germany.
In total the west has now either frozen or cut millions of dollars in aid to the African state. This has brought criticism from some quarters including from the Kampala based Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law, who say that governments should find another way to protest the law and that cutting aid will only harm the poorest most in need of help.

The Ugandan government have been bullish in response. Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said: “The West can keep their ‘aid’ to Uganda over homos, we shall develop without it.”

In 2012 Ugandan trade with the EU and United States was worth a combined $600m to the Ugandan economy, just over 10% of their GDP. This suggests that if Western consumers were to boycott Ugandan goods that the impact on the Ugandan economy would be far greater. However the outcome would likely be the same with cuts to front line services that will negatively impact those in need of health care and other essential provisions.

However the West mustn’t be blackmailed into inaction. There’s no effective way of protesting the worrying developments in Uganda from afar without imposing some kind of economic sanction. The government that allows its own people to suffer to uphold a twisted moralistic ideology cannot be allowed to make martyrs of those suffering due to their policy.

Words: Aaron Golightly (@AaronGolightly_)

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