Sweden stops development aid to Uganda following passage of anti-gay law

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Minister for International Development Cooperation Hillevi Engstroem announced on March 5 that Sweden would be stopping all development aid to Uganda as a direct result of the anti-gay bill President Yoweri Museveni signed into law on February 24.

According to AFP, Engström said, “The government reaffirms its strong condemnation of the Ugandan legislation that violates the fundamental rights of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people.

“Swedish aid is not unconditional. That’s why the government has decided to withhold state-to-state payments.”

He added, “We want to support homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people in Uganda through Swedish aid via other channels.”

Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands announced almost immediately after the bill was signed that they would freeze their aid to the country or redirect their aid to other non-governmental organizations in Uganda.

Sweden has also stated it will maintain subsidies to other civil organizations.

Additionally, on Friday, February 28, the World Bank announced they were postponing an intended loan, which was allocated to supporting maternal health and building new hospitals.

In 2012, Sweden’s financial aid to Uganda amounted to 26.5 million euros ($34.1 million USD), of which 42 percent was reportedly going towards democracy, gender equality, and human rights.

Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda member Frank Mugisha has warned that punishing the country with cutting aid could “create new victims.”

However, members of the Ugandan government have taken the cuts in stride. People such as David Bahati, who orchestrated the anti-gay bill, claiming they will be just fine without it.

“This blackmail will go on,” Bahati told Reuters. “It might get worse before it gets better but at the end of the day, the sovereignty of our nation will triumph.”

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