John M. Becker

Uganda: It Gets Worse

Filed By John M. Becker | May 02, 2014 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Africa, Anti-Homosexuality Bill, NGOs, nonprofits, scapegoating, Uganda, Yoweri Museveni

uganda-map.jpgJust months after enacting a draconian "jail the gays" law -- a measure that imposes a lifetime prison sentence for the "crime" of "aggravated homosexuality," mandates jail time for sexual acts between members of the same sex, compels people to turn in anyone they know who has engaged in same-sex sexual conduct, and penalizes them if they fail to do so -- the eastern African nation Uganda is preparing to clamp down further on LGBT rights.

Reuters reports that a new law is being considered that would forbid non-governmental organizations from "promoting homosexuality":

The draft, now being studied by the cabinet before being introduced in parliament, would also ban foreign NGOs from meddling in the east African country's politics, junior internal affairs minister James Baba told Reuters on Monday.

Critics say the legislation will further erode civil liberties and entrench a climate of oppression and political intolerance already evolving ahead of 2016 polls in which veteran leader, Yoweri Museveni, is expected to stand...

"There are some NGOs who have come here to undermine us, to promote very bad behavior like homosexuality," junior internal affairs minister, James Baba told Reuters on Monday. "As a responsible government we need to check that. They (NGOs) will not be able to do that when we pass this law."

The new law will require all charities to declare to the government their annual budgets, their sources of income and will also be obligated to present accountability for any funds received from those sources at the end of every year. Foreign NGOs, he said, would be barred from commenting or involving themselves Ugandan politics."

Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo slammed the law, telling Reuters that President Museveni will use the measure to tighten his stranglehold on power:

"What is happening is that rather than use brute force, Museveni's politics is increasingly dependent on use of money to win elections. So in order for them to have a free hand in spending public resources to buy votes in the next election, what do you do? You begin to restrict NGOs."

No word yet on whether the United States or any of the other Western nations that have already cut or redirected foreign aid payments away from Uganda's government plan to respond to this latest escalation.


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