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Call to review aid to Uganda over its harsh anti-gay laws

THE UK's ambassador to Uganda should be recalled and aid to the African state reviewed in the wake of new anti-gay legislation, campaigners have urged.

A protest is being planned for Edinburgh next week against Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill, which introduces harsher penalties for gay people.

The Equality Network, the Scottish LGBT charity, will hold a national protest on March 7, claiming Glasgow's staging of the Commonwealth Games, where Uganda will take part, has brought the matter into sharper focus.

The bill, which was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

Homosexuality is already a criminal act in Uganda and the new bill is set to recommend life imprisonment for those found guilty of "aggravated homo-sexuality", defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was deeply saddened and disappointed by Uganda's decision to extend the ban on homosexuality.

Scott Cuthbertson, of the Equality Network, said; "This is a sad day for humanity and a devastating blow to equality and human rights around the world. The signing into law of regressive legislation in Uganda will see the mass criminalisation of LGBT people, and anyone who supports or helps them.

"As the eyes of the world fall on Scotland during the Common-wealth Games we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with LGBT people in Uganda and all those around the world facing violence, discrimination and imprisonment because of who they are and who they love.

"We call on the UK Government to make a strong stand for human rights by recalling the UK ambassador to Uganda for consultation, and by urgently reviewing the distribution of UK aid to Uganda to ensure maximum support for human rights while maintaining the level of funding."

The Scottish protest will coincide with an international day of action called by Nigerian LGBT activists who are facing similar laws and restrictions in Nigeria.

SNP MSP James Dornan, meanwhile, wrote to the High Commissioner of Uganda, Professor Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda, asking her to use her visit to Glasgow for the Common-wealth Games to meet him and LGBT organisations.

Mr Dornan said: "Scotland has a positive story to tell on LGBT equality, and that is why I have asked the ambassador to meet with me when she is in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.

"I do not seek to lecture Uganda. I want to put forward Scotland's story on gay equality and demonstrate the benefits of an inclusive, tolerant and equal society."

The UK ended budget support payments to Uganda last year and following yesterday's calls to stop aid, the Foreign Office said it had raised its "very serious concerns" about the new legislation with the Ugandan Government.

Mr Hague said: "We ask the Government of Uganda to protect all its citizens and encourage tolerance, equality and respect.

"We will continue to press the Government of Uganda to defend human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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