Sierra Leone President warns West against withholding African aid money over anti-gay laws

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The President of Sierra Leone on Saturday warned western countries against cutting aid money to African countries based on anti-gay laws.

President Ernest Koroma spoke to reporters in Abuja, and commented on the World Bank’s decision to postpone a £54m loan to Uganda over its tough new Anti-Homosexuality Act.

One day after Uganda’s President signed into law a bill making homosexuality punishable with life imprisonment, several countries including Denmark and Norway also said they will cut aid to the country’s Government in favour of NGOs.

Koroma said: “We have to ensure that the communities are sensitised well enough. It is not right for issues to be imposed lock, stock and barrel from the international world.”

“We have to take into consideration our culture, tradition, religious beliefs and all that.

“I believe that on issues like this, like it is happening in other sensitive areas, time should be given to countries to engage,” he went on.

He continued: “I believe with engagement with our communities, sensitisation and other public awareness programmes, we will get at a consensus.

“When a country arrives at a consensus, I think the country should be led by what it believes is right for the country and not what is necessarily right for the international community because of the variations in our traditions.”

The US Secretary of State John Kerry said his country is now reviewing its relations with Uganda, following President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign anti-gay legislation.

Sweden has also said it will review its aid spending.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for an end to a political agreement with Uganda over the law.

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was “an abhorrent backwards step for human rights”.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was “deeply saddened and disappointed”. 

A tabloid newspaper in Uganda today published a list of the “200 top” gay people.