News (World)

UN chief demands repeal of Uganda law, Netherlands freezes aid subsidy

UN chief demands repeal of Uganda law, Netherlands freezes aid subsidy
Stephen Wandera, APUgandan anti-gay activist Pastor Martin Ssempa posts up a public notice offering
Stephen Wandera, AP
Ugandan anti-gay activist Pastor Martin Ssempa posts up a public notice offering “rehabilitation” for homosexuals at Uganda’s National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

WASHINGTON — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday demanded that Uganda revise or repeal the law imposing prison sentences for the “crime” of homosexuality, adding to the growing international criticism of the measure signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban cautioned that the law could fuel prejudice and encourage harassment against LGBT people, but offered UN support “for constructive dialogue.”

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, warned the law was “formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone.”

“Outsiders cannot dictate to us,” Museveni said as he signed the bill on Monday. “This is our country. I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue, because if they make it an issue the more they will lose. If the West does not want to work with us because of homosexuals, then we have enough space to ourselves here.”

A number of Western countries, including the U.S., say they are evaluating their policies towards Uganda based on enactment of the “draconian measure.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney called the law “abhorrent.” He said Uganda “took a step backward” with the law and urged its repeal.

Carney added that the White House is undergoing the review of its relationship. He declined to say what that could mean in terms of aid or other impacts while the review is underway.

A spokesperson for the government of The Netherlands confirmed that an ongoing aid subsidy to Uganda’s legal system had been frozen Tuesday, telling LGBTQ Nation that the earmarked €9.6 million Euros subsidy should not be used to “enforce such an anti-human law and that we [the government of the Netherlands] would not be a party to assisting such laws.”

The governments of Denmark and Norway have also said they would redirect around €8.5 million in government aid towards private sector initiatives, aid agencies and rights organizations as a result of the Ugandan law, reported Al Jazeera.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality law increases sentences for attempted same-sex acts, also specifies life in prison sentences for crimes of “aggravated homosexuality” – sex acts with those that have HIV, with “repeat offenders” and with minors.

The bill also criminalizes “promoting” homosexuality, recommending seven years in prison to any individuals offering counseling, aid or other services to LGBT Ugandans.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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