U.K. Ups Pressure On Uganda's Gay-Death Proposal
Kinnock: â€œWe are very concerned about the bill and have made this clear in numerous representations to the Uganda government.â€
â€œMost recently, the Prime Minister raised the issue with Ugandan President Museveni at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad.â€
The United Kingdom, a major donor country and supporter of Uganda's dictator Yoweri K. Museveni is increasing pressure against the east African country to scrap the proposed death sentence law for homosexuals.
In a letter responding to The Black Star News's inquiries the U.K.'s top Africa development assistance minister said the government of would continue to lobby against the measure together with other EU member countries.
More than half of Uganda's government budget is subsidized by foreign donors. The proposed law has generated global outrage against the Museveni dictatorship since it was introduced in parliament there by MP David Bahati, a lawmaker from Museveni's National Resistance Movement party.
Early this month, President Barack Obama called the proposal "odious" and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sharply attacked it in a national president breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., also attended by Obama.
Here in the U.K. the government continues to hammer against the Museveni regime. British Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Baroness Glenys Kinnock, responding to inquiries from The Black Star News made through a British member of Parliament, wrote: “We are very concerned about the bill and have made this clear in numerous representations to the Uganda government.”
She added, “Most recently, the Prime Minister raised the issue with Ugandan President Museveni at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad.”
Additionally, Kinnock wrote: “Likewise, I raised the issue with the Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, also at CHOGM. The UK High Commissioner in Kampala takes every appropriate opportunity to engage Ugandan Ministers on the issue.”
Kinnock added: “We have also lobbied through the EU, Sweden, who held the EU Presidency in Uganda, led EU demarche to Ugandan Foreign Ministry in December. The European Parliament has also called on the Uganda authorities not to approve the bill in resolution passed on 17 December.”
Kinnock continued: “Our concerns include the negative impact the bill would have on the rights of homosexual and heterosexual Ugandans through the criminalization of any action that could be construed as support for homosexuality.”
“This could be extremely detrimental to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda as, in theory, most donor agencies and international non-governmental organizations could be encompassed under this law.”
Kinnock also noted: “The UK is also in close touch with and is supporting Ugandan civil society organizations campaigning against the bill. We will continue to follow the passage of the bill and to lobby against its introduction.”
The minister also wrote that the U.K. government is also taking measures to ensure that money from the $1.5 billion aid deal signed with Uganda isn’t abused. “Our aid is assisting the Government of Uganda to extend and improve education and health services and to bring the benefits of peace to Northern Uganda.” The U.K. was “instituting monitoring of the activities and statements of the organizations we support to ensure our funding is not used on contravention of the Human Rights Act,” the minister concluded.
Separately, leading U.K. Gay activist Peter Tatchell of Outrage says momentum has gathered globally against the bill and pointed to a popular videotape on YouTube produced by Rob Tisinai
Uganda's Museveni now seems bent on dousing the flames of the fire he helped start, recently telling members of his ruling party to "go slow" on the proposed gay death bill.
(Editor’s Note: The Black Star converted U.K. spelling to American English in the minister’s letter)
Miwambo is U.K. Black Star News correspondent