Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adding D to ABC: How a Proposed Ban on Homosexuality in Uganda Will Undo AIDS Progress

Adding D to ABC in Uganda will not reduce HIV/AIDS and may make matters worse. For the sake of human rights and a working AIDS policy, ABC is enough.

via, by Dr. Warren Throckmorton

Between 2004 and 2008, the United States has provided 1.2 billion dollars to the East African nation of Uganda through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Instigated by President George W. Bush, PEPFAR's results have been striking. According to a 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine research report, an estimated 1.2 million lives have been saved. The AIDS rate has dropped dramatically. PEPFAR funds three components of AIDS education and prevention: Abstinence education, Be faithful in marriage or to one partner, and Condom usage (ABC).

However, a bill proposed in the Ugandan parliament in early October may add a D to this policy and compromise Bush's good work. The D stands for the death penalty for homosexual offenses, including multiple homosexual acts and engaging in sex while HIV positive.

Introduced by MP David Bahati, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 would impose the death penalty on some homosexual behaviors, and maintain life in prison for others. Even touching someone of the same sex could be considered an offense if the intent is sexual. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda but this bill cracks down harder on offenders as well as anyone with any relationship to a homosexual. The bill requires persons in authority (pastor, teacher, missionary, physician, parent, etc.) to report any knowledge of any offense covered by the act within 24 hours upon pain of 3 years in jail or a hefty fine. Thus, parents could be expected to turn in same-sex attracted children. Relevant to AIDS relief work, there is no exemption in the bill for professionals. If a patient reveals homosexual behavior in the course of AIDS treatment or education, then those hearing the revelation must report.

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