In June, the European Union (EU) announced its decision to continue funding Uganda despite the nation’s recent adoption of a highly controversial anti-LGBTQ+ law in May, which has garnered significant international attention due to its prescription of the death penalty for specific same-sex acts. This move has ignited a massive outcry and backlash from the global LGBTQ+ community.
Under this new legislation, at least five individuals have been charged, with two facing the most severe charge of “aggravated homosexuality.” The law also prescribes punishment for the promotion of homosexuality. The international response to this law has been varied, including the World Bank’s suspension of new public loans to Uganda last month and the United States imposing visa restrictions on specific Ugandan officials in June.
In a written statement delivered to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Jutta Urpilainen, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, expressed that withholding financial assistance from Uganda due to its legislation, which mandates the death penalty for specific same-sex activities, would result in the withholding of crucial support from vulnerable communities. She also clarified that “high-level EU officials have raised the issue with the Ugandan Government, Parliament, and President. In this dialogue, the EU emphasised that the criminalisation of homosexuality is contrary to the principles of equality and non-discrimination in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.”
In response to the statement, Convening for Equality Uganda stated “The recent EU announcement misses a critical opportunity to take more strategic action to protect the fundamental principle of non-discrimination – something the EU and EU member states profess a deep commitment to.”
The EU is one of Uganda’s biggest donors, funding infrastructure projects, health programmes and food assistance.