MERCY NALUGO, ISAAC IMAKA & AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA
The government yesterday reiterated its opposition to homosexuality and said donors were free to withdraw their funding if they wish.
Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo was responding to a Daily Monitor story that Sweden had joined other countries that are pressuring the government to discard a proposed law that would severely punish homosexuality in the country.
“Homosexuality will not be promoted, encouraged or supported in Uganda,” Mr Buturo added.
Mr Buturo told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala that: “We should remind them (the donors) that there is integrity to be defended and threats are not the way to go. If one chooses to withdraw their aid, they are free because Ugandans do not want to engage in anal sex. We do not care.”
Life imprisonment is the minimum punishment for anyone convicted of having gay sex, under an anti-homosexuality Bill currently before Uganda’s parliament
He said Ugandans are sober people who consider homosesuality abnormal.
According to comments attributed to Ms Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s development assistance minister, the Swedish government says it would cut aid to Uganda over an anti-gay law they find “appalling”.
Mr Buturo said ever since the Bill was tabled in Parliament; various countries have been overreacting and castigating Uganda for having such a law debated by Parliament.
As Mr Buturo was castigating donors, the Uganda Human Rights Commission announced that it will scrutinise the Bill and make recommendations before it is debated. Commission Chairman, Mr Med Kaggwa, said the exercise will help establish whether the Bill, which has been criticised by some rights groups, violates human rights.
“What I can say is that we are human rights defenders and if they (gays) come and complain of discrimination we shall handle their cases,” he said without divulging details.
Mr Butoro warned donors against making statements in the press.
He urged them to channel official communication through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The government welcomes views that well-wishers of Uganda make concerning her governance. It should be noted from the outset that when such views are from diplomats who are accredited to Uganda, the standard diplomatic practice world over is for such views to be communicated to government through well known diplomatic channels,” he said.
“It is never, ever, a standard practice in the civilised world for a diplomat to address the press of a country in which he or she is serving on how the host country is handling affairs of its land,” he added.
The European Union envoy to Uganda, Mr Vincent De Visscher, in an interview with Daily Monitor on Wednesday, demanded that the government stops offering lip-service in the fight against corruption.
But Mr Buturo said such a statement can only be made by a person who is “unaware of what is going on in the country.”
“It is clear to government and whoever cares to understand the complexities of corruption, that it will take more than the government alone to defeat the corrupt,” he said.
He said the corrupt usually enjoy the support of foreign companies. “The corrupt are found everywhere,” he said.