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Sweden stops payouts to 'anti-gay Uganda'

AFP/The Local · 5 Mar 2014, 13:27

Published: 05 Mar 2014 13:27 GMT+01:00

Sweden said Wednesday it would stop development aid payments to Uganda "because of the anti-gay legislation" passed in late February.

"The government reaffirms its strong condemnation of the Ugandan legislation that violates the fundamental rights of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people," International Aid Minister Hillevi Engström said.

"Swedish aid is not unconditional. That's why the government has decided to withhold state-to-state payments," she added without specifying the amount involved.

On February 24th, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a series of bills banning the promotion of homosexuality and making it mandatory to report gays in a country where they can face life-time imprisonment.

Other European nations, namely Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, announced on the very same day that they would freeze their aid to the Ugandan state or redirect it towards private sector initiatives, aid agencies and rights organizations.

Sweden said it would also maintain subsidies to civil society organizations.

"We want to support homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people in Uganda through Swedish aid via other channels," Engström said.

Sweden's subsidies to Uganda in 2012 amounted to $34.1 million, 42 percent of which were intended to promote democracy, human rights, and gender equality.

Sweden's stance on gay rights has come up against Ugandan attitudes to homosexuality before. In March last year, the Swedish migration authorities called off a deportation order for a Ugandan man engaged to be married to a compatriot with Swedish residence.

The couple, who went on to wed in a Swedish church, made headlines in Sweden not least because a government minister, Birgitta Ohlsson, attended the church ceremony.

Jimmy Sserwadda told The Local that he and his husband Lawrence Kaala were afraid Kaala would be harassed or even lose his life if he had to return to Uganda. Sserwadda also said they believed themselves to be the first Ugandan same-sex couple to wed legally. 

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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