Earlier this year, Ugandan politicians passed one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ laws, where people could be jailed just for being gay or given the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” Now, in a report shared by VICE, it has been revealed that at least $40m of international aid funding has been given to anti-LGBTQ religious groups since 2014.
The new report, published by the Institute for Journalism and Social Change, reveals that funds have been granted to groups such as the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) – a conservative religious group that has pushed for laws against homosexuality for over a decade. The group lost US funding in 2014 after it came out in support of Uganda’s anti-gay laws in 2014 following international backlash.
However, the report also discovered that the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has distributed at least £130,000 to the IRCU in two different initiatives. The UK donated more to projects involving anti-LGBTQ groups in Uganda than any other European nation, the report said.
The funding is understood to have ceased after the IRCU made public comments regarding the new bill in 2023. An FCDO spokesperson told VICE: “The UK government has long been at the forefront of promoting LGBT+ rights internationally and is concerned by the increasing criminalisation of LGBT+ persons in Uganda which threatens minority rights and risks persecution.”
“All UK Aid partners are put through rigorous due diligence assessments before receiving any funding. The UK does not currently provide funding to the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda,” said the spokesperson.
Under the UK aid-funded program ‘Uganda – Open Society,’ the IRCU is listed as an “implementing partner” that has received £134,900 in total since 2021. The program is scheduled to operate until 2024, and as this is an ongoing project, it is not clear how much more money the IRCU may receive before it commences.