A United States-funded health project in Uganda has suspended operations after police arrested a staff member on suspicion of promoting homosexuality, highlighting the mounting legal risks confronting the gay community in the East African state. Uganda enacted legislation in February that strengthened punishments for anyone caught having gay sex, imposing jail terms of up to life for “aggravated homosexuality,” including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.
The US, one of Uganda’s major bilateral sources of aid, and other Western donors have halted or re-directed some US$118 million in aid since President Yoweri Museveni signed the law, which also criminalised lesbianism for the first time.
In a notice on its website on Friday, Makerere University’s Walter Reed Project(MUWRP), a collaboration between Uganda’s biggest public institute of higher learning and the US Military HIV Research Programme, said it would temporarily halt its work until it established the legal basis for the arrest. The project said a Ugandan staff member was taken into custody by police at its offices in Kampala and released without charge the same day.
“Until we have greater clarity as to the legal basis for the police action, the operations of the programme are suspended” to ensure the safety of staff, the project said.— Reuters.
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