Ugandan Presidential Advisor: Threats to Cut Aid Could Backfire

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2011

John Nagenda

Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda told the BBC that British threats to cut foreign aid to countries that do not respect gay rights could backfire on efforts to derail Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron raised the issue again at the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia. Nagenda reacted strongly to that warning:

Mr Nagenda accused Mr Cameron of showing an “ex-colonial mentality” and of treating Ugandans “like children”.

“Uganda is, if you remember, a sovereign state and we are tired of being given these lectures by people,” he told the BBC’s Newshour programme.

Nagenda, it should be remembered, is not a proponent of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He was the first major figure tied to the Ugandan government to come out against the bill when he published an op-ed in the pro-government New Vision in late 2009. He still says that he believed the bill won’t become law, but argues that given the country’s history under British colonial rule, Ugandans are particularly sensitive to perceived meddling by their former colonial masters:

“I believe it (the bill) will die a natural death. But this kind of ex-colonial mentality of saying: ‘You do this or I withdraw my aid’ will definitely make people extremely uncomfortable with being treated like children,” Mr Nagenda said.

African LGBT advocates have voiced similar concerns over Britain’s threat to cut aid. In a statement signed by several leading LGBT advocacy groups and individuals, they argue that threats to cut aid could have unintended consequences, partly by undermining the formation and growth of indigenous human rights groups:

The imposition of donor sanctions may be one way of seeking to improve the human rights situation in a country but does not, in and of itself, result in the improved protection of the rights of LGBTI people. Donor sanctions are by their nature coercive and reinforce the disproportionate power dynamics between donor countries and recipients. They are often based on assumptions about African sexualities and the needs of African LGBTI people. They disregard the agency of African civil society movements and political leadership. They also tend, as has been evidenced in Malawi, to exacerbate the environment of intolerance in which political leadership scapegoat LGBTI people for donor sanctions in an attempt to retain and reinforce national state sovereignty.

Further, the sanctions sustain the divide between the LGBTI and the broader civil society movement. In a context of general human rights violations, where women are almost as vulnerable as LGBTI people, or where health and food security are not guaranteed for anyone, singling out LGBTI issues emphasizes the idea that LGBTI rights are special rights and hierarchically more important than other rights. It also supports the commonly held notion that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’ and a western-sponsored ‘idea’ and that countries like the UK will only act when ‘their interests’ have been threatened.

Terry T

November 1st, 2011

The fact remains that whether or not they are a Sovereign People, such anti-human rights extreme measures does make them indeed LOOK like children. IF they wish to be recognized, act appropriately. This is no longer a lecture, it is a fact.

Lightning Baltimore

November 1st, 2011

Stop treating me like a child! Now, gimme my allowance or I’m gonna hold my breath ’til I turn blue!!!

Leonardo Ricardo

November 1st, 2011

First, congratulations to Minister Nagenda for opposing the deadly-to-fellow-citizens (of his and ours) anti-LGBT Bill recently reintroduced into the Parliament of Uganda.

Secondly, a suggestion to Minister Nagenda to stop telling others where/how to donate their money! Perpetuating ignorance and ¨evangelical¨ superstious lies has a very lethal outcome for those innocents who are victims of LGBT FEAR/HATE in Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Jamaica and beyond…as Anglican LGBT Activist David Kato/Uganda, R.I.P stands tall as an example of the injustice and vile National stupidity against ¨gay¨ people in Uganda…it would be a sickly codendent government or person(s) who helped perpetuate such blood flow by being named economic ¨bullies¨ in order to save REAL LIVES…doing the right thing takes courage but often bigots and thieves are angry for being caught with their VERY OWN pants down…suddenly the evil doer might even be THEM!


November 1st, 2011

if Uganda is a sovereign country, then why are they addicted to receiving foreign aid? just bring up the fact they are expatriots to the british crown treating them as imperial children proves their inability to BE a sovereign country.


November 1st, 2011

Act like a child? Get treated like a child.

Case closed.


November 1st, 2011

Judging by the above comments I would say David Cameron is a shrewd politician.


November 1st, 2011

Ha! Receiving foreign aid because their people have been so utterly incompetent in raising the country out of the social and financial quagmire it’s in is sooooo not totally childish.

But when the British threaten to stop being Sugar Daddy to Corrupt Nation, they gotta play the past guilt card. It’s just laughable.

Timothy Kincaid

November 1st, 2011

Of course they aren’t children.

They want their allowance but the don’t want to be told what to do. They’re teenagers.


November 1st, 2011

Adults generally recognize that the choices they make have consequences. For example, an adult should recognize that the choice to persecute human beings, for any reason including sexual orientation, will have negative consequences.

Nagenda is engaged in extortion – keep up the aid, he says, or Uganda will make things even worse for GLBTQ people.

“Donor sanctions are by their nature coercive”

If Nagenda feels this way, then Uganda should refuse all aid.


November 1st, 2011

How babyish. Colonialism? They are welcome to make any policy they please – they seemingly want to dictate to other the conditions of receiving the hard-earned money of other countries’ taxpayers. I don’t my taxes going to homophobes, thanks.

This should be just the starting point. Boycott Ugandan goods such as cocoa and coffee.

Tom in Lazybrook

November 1st, 2011

So..keep giving us your tax dollars or we’ll beat up your Gay people more than we are now. And don’t ask for anything in return for our money,

It may get a bit nasty, but we can’t continue to subsidize anti-Gay behavior.

Perhaps the UK could combine the cutting off of foreign aid with a rule that in the event of a backlash against the LGBT communities in those countries that visas will be allocated to Gay persons first and to government officials and their families LAST

Tom in Lazybrook

November 1st, 2011

And we should pull the PEPFAR funding too. If Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana (as well as Kenya, Malawi, Zambia) continue to perpetuate and defend policies that encourage the spread of AIDS, then might I suggest that we allocate those funds to countries that are interested in fighting the disease rather than to those engaging in witchhunts. Make the funding contingent through agencies that do not judge or discriminate against Gay persons and that have OPENLY Gay employees.


November 2nd, 2011

Using one’s culture as an excuse for bigotry is disgusting. Whether Africans want to accept it or not, there are gay and lesbian Africans. Usually the “unAfrican” argument is deeply-seated in the religious views of the country. These religions, ironically, were also imported to Ghana from Britain. Christianity and it’s gospel of hate is the worst kind of colonialism imaginable. It has colonised the minds of the African and turned his thinking into a cesspool of hate, discrimination and hypocrisy. Africa still has a very long way to evolve until it reaches the tolerance levels of the west. Shame on you for treating people as sub-human. Did you not learn anything from slavery and apartheid?

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