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Ugandan President: Concerns Over Gay Rights Shouldn't Affect Foreign Aid

Ugandan President: Concerns Over Gay Rights Shouldn't Affect Foreign Aid

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The president of Uganda has warned Western nations not to put strings on foreign development aid for the sake of LGBT rights, AFP reports.

"Before anyone gives me a lecture about homosexuals and their rights, first talk about railways," President Yoweri Museveni told delegates at a regional meeting in the capital city of Kampala with several other African heads of state. "Homosexuals also need electricity, homosexuals also need roads, homosexuals also need railways." (Read the AFP report here.)

Museveni's comments come less than two weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech before the UN in Geneva on LGBT rights as fundamental human rights.

State Department officials have emphasized that the articulated foreign policy directives on LGBT rights as outlined by the Obama administration last week are "affirmative, not punitive." For example, Clinton announced in her address the launch of a small global fund to support initiatives of LGBT groups in countries where gays may face criminal charges and hostile environments.

UK prime minister David Cameron had made bolder statements this fall, calling for the cutting of one type of bilateral aid to Commonwealth countries that criminalize homosexuality.

Some political observers view Museveni's comments as small sign of progress, however roundabout: The Ugandan leader barely mentioned the existence of gay people in his country several years ago.

Meanwhile, three antigay Christian pastors in Uganda accused of a smear campaign against another religious leader faced conspiracy charges this week that could lead to five-year jail sentences, according to one regional report.

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