The Canadian government has spent thousands of dollars quietly fighting Uganda’s ‘Kill The Gays’ bill.
The government has spent more than $200,000 (US$194k, â‚¬150k) helping gay rights initiatives and projects in the African country.
Speaking to Canada’s National Post, a senior Department of Foreign Affairs official said: ‘Canadian officials have conveyed Canada’s concerns with the bill to Uganda’s Foreign Ministry’.
They also confirmed Canada is also ‘working closely with Ugandan civil society’.
Financial agreements allocating the money among Ugandan LGBT initiatives and Kenya – where Canada’s high commissioner for Uganda is based – were signed in January and will continue to the end of March.
The projects include training sessions for activists, emergency kits for those fearing for their safety and establishment of an emergency hotline to help LGBT Africans escape homophobic countries.
Most of these programs are run by local African LGBT groups, and directly funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
At an Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec last year, Ugandan speaker Rebecca Kadaga demanded an apology.
She said: ‘If homosexuality is a value for the Canadian people, that’s not a problem for us. That’s its issue. But one shouldn’t force Ugandans to accept homosexuality because we’re not Canadian citizens.
‘We have our problems, they have theirs.’
Rick Roth, a spokesman for Baird’s office, said Canada believes ‘in the promotion and protection of human rights for all people without discrimination.’
‘The Government of Uganda must live up to its international obligations and protect all Ugandans from discrimination and abuse, regardless of sexual orientation,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘We take this issue very seriously and we will continue to work with our international partners and raise our deep concerns at the highest level.’
While Kadaga’s promise that the legislation would pass as a ‘Christmas gift’ to Ugandans who are ‘demanding it’ failed to materialize, the ‘Kill The Gays’ bill continues to linger on parliament’s order papers under ‘Business to Follow’ – meaning it come up for debate at any time.
Opposition to the bill within the Ugandan parliament is almost non-existent and many LGBT activists predict if there is a vote, it will pass.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the bill calls for harsher penalties for people convicted of ‘aggravated homosexuality’.
It is loosely defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.