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France, Sweden caution Uganda on gays law, UN concerned

Kampala-Sweden’s Finance Minister Anders Borg warned Tuesday that the new law imposing life imprisonment for homosexuals could hit a financial blow to the country and will scare away investors.

Mr Borg, who was in Uganda as part of the East African tour to review economic growth opportunities in the region, said: “The idea of sentencing people to life imprisonment because of their sexual orientation is unacceptable.”

“Uganda has had a reputation for being safe and stable in political terms, but recent events (the anti-homosexuality law signed Monday) will overshadow this optimism,” Mr Borg who earlier in the day had held meetings with gay rights activists to reecho support for them, remarked.

He, said the law represents financial risk for Uganda because not only will donors cut aid, areas like tourism and investment will also be affected. “We are currently reviewing our own aid programme and it’s a factor we will have to take into account,” Mr Borg said, adding that he had raised the matter with the Finance Minister, Maria Kiwanuka and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

Sweden last year spent up to $35 million on projects as part of economic aid.Similarly, the French government expressed concerns on the legislation and reaffirmed its “commitment to the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The country’s Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman, Mr Romain Nadal, in a statement said, they support “civil society initiatives aimed at combating these types of discrimination” and called upon Uganda to uphold their international commitments relating to the protection of human rights.

UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the law could obstruct effective responses to HIVAids and he hoped it could be revised or repealed at the earliest opportunity.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Fred Opolot, however said government would today convene a meeting with the donors to chart a way forward on the matter but most notably “to reiterate the President’ stance on the matter.”

So far Norway, Denmark and Netherlands have suspended budgetary support to Uganda since Monday.

Source: Daily Monitor

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