Anti-Gay Rally in Ugandan Capital Draws Thousands

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
President Yoweri Museveni at a March 31, 2014, gathering in Kampala, where religious groups gathered to thank him for signing an anti-gay bill into law in February.

Photo by Edward Echwalu/Reuters

Anti-gay hostility in Uganda ratcheted up a few more levels on Monday, when the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, spoke to a crowd of thousands—including many children—who had rallied in support of the administration’s horrific “aggravated homosexuality” law, which was approved in February. According to reports from Reuters, the throng “applauded when Museveni declared homosexuality ‘unhealthy’ ” and included kids sporting signs “with the word ‘Sodomy’ crossed out.”

While this hateful rhetoric is now sadly par for the course in Uganda, Museveni’s bellicose comments regarding international sanctions were more striking, providing further evidence that Uganda’s LGBTQ community is in some ways a casualty of the country’s more general effort to take a stand against what it sees as the degrading influence and paternalism of the West.

“When you hear these Europeans saying they are going to cut aid … we don’t need aid in the first place,” Museveni said. “A country like Uganda is one of the richest on earth.”

Reuters notes that about $118 million in donor aid has been withheld since the law was signed. Still, while Uganda does depend on international infusions, it has weathered similar sanctions in the past: “In 2013, aid flows were cut over a corruption scandal. Growth slipped, but the economy still expanded about 6 percent.” Museveni is clearly betting on similar luck this time. Meanwhile, the publically celebrated terrorizing of his country’s LGBTQ citizens continues apace.