EU says it will continue aid despite anti-gay law

EU says it will continue aid despite anti-gay law
Thousands of Muslims participate in the anti-gay walk in Jinja City in February. The EU has decided to maintain its funding to Uganda despite the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. PHOTO/TAUSI NAKATO

In a surprising move that has stirred controversy among pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, the European Union (EU) has declared its intention to continue providing funding to Uganda despite the implementation of the highly controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act.

In a statement released to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, justified the decision by emphasizing the critical support the EU provides to vulnerable communities in Uganda. She argued that suspending EU financial assistance due to the law’s punitive measures against specific same-sex activities would negatively impact those who need it the most, including LGBTQI individuals.

Ms. Urpilainen added that discontinuing support could create a void that might be filled by entities that do not share the EU’s values, potentially exacerbating the situation. She affirmed the EU’s commitment to engage with Ugandan authorities and civil society to ensure equal treatment for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

This decision comes as a respite to Ugandan authorities, who have faced criticism from Western allies following the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The United States, for instance, condemned the law as a violation of universal human rights and imposed sanctions on Ugandan officials. The World Bank also froze new public financing to Uganda in response.

The EU’s stance aligns with its previous expressions of concern over the law and efforts to engage with Ugandan authorities on the matter. Despite criticism, the EU has chosen to prioritize continued assistance while advocating for LGBTQI rights and non-discrimination in Uganda.

However, some critics argue that the EU should consider alternative ways to allocate its financial assistance to ensure that those promoting hatred and discrimination do not benefit from EU funds. They believe that this dilemma provides the EU with an opportunity to take a clear stand on LGBTQI rights in Africa and address the festering issue of discrimination against queer minorities.

The EU’s decision to maintain funding is significant, as it is one of the top financiers of the Ugandan government and supports various development projects and humanitarian aid efforts in the country.

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