Uganda’s decision to impose tougher penalties on homosexuality has been widely condemned by Western donors.
President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a raft of measures such as a life jail term for “aggravated homosexuality” – including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.
It criminalises lesbianism for the first time and makes it an offence to help individuals engage in gay acts.
Western donors immediately criticised Uganda. Norway and Denmark said they were withholding or diverting aid money and Austria said it was reviewing assistance. Britain condemned the new law but did not mention aid cuts.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was a “tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights,” and that this “complicates a valued relationship.”
Washington is one of Uganda’s largest donors, sending more than $400 million a year.
Binyavanga Wainaina, a prominent African writer, says it is an easy way for Museveni to increase his popularity.
“Museveni is creating a wedge issue that becomes a global issue at a time the subject matter is there and so his people can unite and he can look strong.”
Homosexuality is taboo in almost all African countries and illegal in 37 where rights groups say gay people have long risked jail.
Fear of violence, imprisonment and loss of jobs means few gays in Africa come out.