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Anti-gay Ugandan Inter-Religious Council sacks all staff after USAID withdraws funding

A council representing faiths groups in Uganda has had to fire all its staff after the US Government redirected funding to other groups over its support for draconian legislation punishing LGBTI people

Anti-gay Ugandan Inter-Religious Council sacks all staff after USAID withdraws funding

Uganda’s multi-faith Inter-Religious Council has had its funding terminated by the United States government over its members’ support for draconian legislation punishing LGBTI people and those who support them, and the European Union has followed suit.

The Inter-Religious Council is made up of Uganda’s Muslim Supreme Council, the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda and Anglican, Orthodox and Seventh Day Adventist churches.

USAID stripped the group of 89.6 billion Ugandan shillings ($US34.5 million), causing the group to lay off all its staff.

The US mission to Uganda also took back nine pickup trucks it had loaned to the group, with some of those already given to other organizations working in Uganda including local hospitals.

The money had been provided to the group as part of USAID’s five year HIV/AIDS support program for Uganda which saw 70,000 people supported with palliative care, 40,000 people on anti-retroviral medication and 45,000 orphaned or vulnerable children given support.

None of those people will lose support because of the funding withdrawal from the Inter-Religious Council as the funds have been given to other organizations in Uganda to carry out the work.

Inter-Religious Council general secretary Joshua Kitakule told The Observer that the American Government had misunderstood the role of faith leaders in Ugandan society.

‘This is a law that deals with morality and religious leaders will always condemn sin but can’t discriminate against anyone because when we go to mosques or churches, they never ask who we are but preach against the sins that we commit,’ Kitakule said of Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was recently struck down as unconstitutional – though many lawmakers want to pass it again.

Following USAID pulling funding for the group the Democratic Governance Facility fund of the European Union also pulled its funding for a three-year project on governance and accountability worth 1.9 billion Ugandan shillings.

‘They want to isolate us because they think by withdrawing funding, we will be hit hard and [then] we succumb to their pressures,’ Kitakule said.

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