Ugandan minister criticizes the West of pushing 'LGBTQ agenda'

Thursday December 07 2023

Uganda's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem speaks to members of the press in Kampala, Uganda on October 17, 2012. PHOTO | AFP


Uganda on Wednesday accused the West of trying to pressure Africa into accepting homosexuality after the United States slapped its officials with visa restrictions for tough anti-gay laws.

The country adopted one of the world's harshest laws against homosexuality in May, triggering criticism from rights groups, the United Nations and Western powers.

On Monday, Washington imposed visa bans on unnamed officials deemed responsible for "undermining the democratic process" in Uganda and abusing human rights, including those of the LGBTQ community.

Read: Uganda fights off pressure over anti-gay law

But Ugandan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem on Wednesday criticised the US decision and accused the West of pushing "an agenda".

"No doubt some groups in the US and the West have an agenda not only on Africa but specifically Uganda in a mistaken attempt to coerce us into accepting same sex relationships using aid and loans," Oryem told AFP.


Washington imposed a first round of visa restrictions on Ugandan officials in June and last month it said it would remove the country from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade pact from January 2024.

"As guided by parliament and our president, not any amount of aid can change our development programme," Oryem said, adding that Uganda liberated itself without external help.

"There are other international partners and countries that respect our development agenda without giving conditions on travels and trade relations," he said. 

The draconian anti-gay law adopted in May contains provisions making "aggravated homosexuality" a capital offence and imposes penalties for consensual same-sex relations of up to life in prison.

US President Joe Biden as well as the European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have slammed the legislation, warning that foreign aid and investment for Uganda could be jeopardised unless the law is repealed. 

Read: Biden slams Uganda anti-gay law, urges repeal

But the law enjoys broad support in the conservative country, where lawmakers have defended the measures as a necessary bulwark against Western immorality. 

The World Bank announced in August it was suspending new loans to Uganda over the law which "fundamentally contradicts" the values espoused by the US-based lender.

In 2014, international donors slashed aid to Uganda after veteran President Yoweri Museveni approved a bill that sought to impose life imprisonment for homosexual relations, which was later overturned.

The constitutional court in Kampala is due to start hearing a case against the legislation on Monday.