WASHINGTON — U.S. officials have partially suspended aid to the East African country of Uganda for signing into law a bill that criminalized homosexual behavior in the country.
“As a result of this review process, a portion of the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) cooperative agreement with the [Ugandan] Ministry of Health has been put on hold pending this review,” an unnamed official told Reuters this week.
The outlet states that a representative of Uganda’s health ministry confirmed that the department “would no longer be able to access money from a fund used to buy antiretroviral drugs and HIV testing kits.” It is not known exactly how much aid was cut, but last year alone, the department received $3.9 million in U.S. aid.
Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini had signed legislation into law late last month that would require up to life imprisonment for those who engage in “aggravated homosexuality,” meaning those who intentionally spread the HIV virus, commit homosexual pedophilia, or repeatedly engage in sex acts with those of the same gender.
“We have been disappointed for a long time by the conduct of the West, the way you conduct yourselves there,” Musevini, a Christian, told CNN in a recent interview. “Our disappointment is now exacerbated because we are sorry to see that you live the way you live, but we keep quiet about it. Now you say ‘you must also live like us’—that’s where we say no.”
He said that he was not concerned about the possibility that the U.S. would withhold aid in light of Uganda’s position on homosexual behavior.
“Worried? Not at all,” he said. “If the West doesn’t want to work with us because of homosexuals, then we have enough space here to live by ourselves and do business with other people.”
While Musevini and other Ugandan officials have repeatedly received international pressure to abandon the legislation, many Africans fully supported the bill and urged its passage.
“Speaker, we cannot sit back while such [a] destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation,” stated a petition presented to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in 2012. “We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.”
When questioned about the matter, Kadaga stated that she believed that parliament needed to heed the voice of the people.
“Who are we not to do what they have told us?” she said. “These people should not be begging us.”
“The most impressive part of this struggle here is that even non-Christians—like Muslims—are also at the forefront of advocating for the passing of the bill,” Restore Uganda director Okumu Yudah Tadeo told Christian News Network. “According to Uganda’s cultural and religious values that have helped to keep morals in the country, it is in Uganda’s best interest to keep up the good morals and Godly values in this generation and the generations to come.”
Photo: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development