Belgian development programmes in Uganda continue despite criticism over anti-gay law

Belgian development programmes in Uganda will continue, despite heavy criticism over the country's new anti-gay law.

Belgium's minister of Development Cooperation, Caroline Gennez, has condemned the new legislation "in the strongest possible terms" but says that if development programmes are suddenly halted, ordinary Ugandans "will pay the price, not the political and religious leaders who introduced the law".

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni issued the controversial anti-LGBTQI law on Monday. Severe penalties are provided for homosexual relations and "promoting" homosexuality. Before the law was passed, Uganda's plans brought strong international reactions. The Netherlands has announced it is scaling back development cooperation but will continue to "actively support" the protection of the country's LGBTQI community.

"I think it is only a matter of good governance that we as a country demand respect for human rights"

"I think it is only a matter of good governance that we as a country demand respect for human rights," opposition member Kathleen Depoorter (N-VA) said. "Right now, because of the new anti-LGBTQI laws, Uganda cannot respect these human rights." Els Van Hoof (CD&V) warned that stopping development cooperation would be counter-productive and argued the funds should be used to protect human rights and critical civil society.

No 'business as usual'

"Criminalising homosexuality is unacceptable for Belgium," Development minister Gennez (Vooruit) said, but suddenly stopping the programmes now would have especially negative consequences for ordinary people. "Besides, the LGBTQI community in Uganda has explicitly asked us to remain engaged, and we will maintain close contact to see how we can best help them." A meeting with a delegation of the Sexual Minorities Uganda consortium will take place on Wednesday.

However, there is no question of "business as usual", Gennez stressed. "We did make it clear to the Ugandan government that there can be no discrimination based on sexual orientation in our programmes. We will strictly monitor this and have given our people on the ground clear instructions to follow this closely."

During an official visit to Uganda in March, Gennez had already said that "Ugandan activists, for example, on LGBT+ rights, can continue to count on our support; our development cooperation will remain in place for the time being".



Minister for development cooperation Caroline Gennez pictured during a diplomatic mission to Uganda, March 2023 © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

Related news

Website preview
"Not the time to sign new cooperation agreement with Uganda", says Belgian Development minister
Caroline Gennez, Belgium's minister of Development Cooperation, has said during her official visit to Uganda that "now is not the time" to sign a planned cooperation agreement. Just last week, the Ugandan parliament speaker announced that parliament would soon vote on new anti-gay legislation.
Website preview
Belgian development minister calls on Uganda to increase investments in education
On Friday, the last day of her official visit to Uganda, Belgium's minister of development Cooperation Caroline Gennez visited a vocational school and a teacher training school in Mubende. She stressed that education is one of the three priorities for Belgian development cooperation in the East African country. During her visit, Gennez called upon the Ugandan government to invest more in education.
Website preview
Belgian Development Minister praises Uganda's refugee policy
During a visit to the Kyaka refugee settlement on Wednesday, Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez (Vooruit, Flemish Socialists) praised Uganda's refugee policy. The camp is home to 120,000 mostly Congolese refugees. Contrary to the familiar image of tent camps, they live in villages and move around freely.


Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels