Activists lobby donors on gays law as Uganda feels the pinch

Head of Pentecostal Church Pastor Joshua Lwere, Mufti of Uganda Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga hand President Museveni a plaque after signing the anti-gays Bill into law recently. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA

What you need to know:

Rights bodies write to Uganda’s aid partners, spelling out guidelines on how to privately offer support to gay communities in the wake of the anti-homosexuality law.

Kampala- When President Museveni assented to the Anti-homosexuality law in February this year, little did his government anticipate the backlash the law would have on the country.

Minority rights activists, in league with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities and donor countries have been lobbying governments behind closed doors to compromise Uganda’s stand on gay issues.

The Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL) has written to international partners, spelling out guidelines on how to offer support to gay communities in the aftermath of the anti-homosexuality law.

“The guidelines ensure that to some level, we are protected as activists and also the sexual gender minorities, there is a level of protection. Imagine if there was no attention from the outside, police would clump down on the minorities,” says Ms Clare Byarugaba, the CSCHRCL coordinator.

Ms Byarugaba says these guidelines are part of the plan to pressure government to repeal the law.

However, the British High Commission in Kampala is tight lipped on the matter. Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa has since said the government is talking to US and EU representatives over the law.

But the pressure is still on. Ministers and MPs are shifting uneasy in their seats, especially after Internal Affairs state minister Okello Oryem told them last week that there will be visa restrictions by some foreign countries because of their “public utterances” during the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

LGBT campaigners in the UK last week also staged protests over President Museveni’s visit to London outside the UK foreign office as he delivered a speech promoting Uganda as a favourable investment destination.

When Uganda passed the law, US President Barack Obama warned that the law would “complicate our valued relationship”. US which provides Shs4 trillion ($1.7b) in aid, has since warned that it will review its aid relationship with the country. Sweden and Norway also said they are withholding Shs42 billion ($17m) in support.
Australia, Canada and Britain are now issuing travel advisories for people travelling into the country on the basis of the anti-gay law.
Policy analysts argue that these double standards are inherent in the Western world’s stance towards Africa.