Monday, November 30, 2009

Eric Goosby: No Hold on PEPFAR Funds for Uganda

I think I would do more harm than good by connecting our resources to respond to the epidemic to making them dependent on a behavior that they're not willing to engage in on their own.

via Newsweek blog, by Katie Paul

Stigma is anathema to effective public-health work, but that's never stopped homophobic crusaders from mucking up the fight against HIV/AIDS before. Now, just as the South African government is finally changing its tune on the matter, Uganda is emerging as the world's new problem country. The recipient of $287 million in PEPFAR funds last year, Uganda is also the site of a vicious campaign against homosexuality, which took a turn for the worse last month when the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" was introduced to Parliament. The bill threatens harsher punishments for actual or even perceived homosexual activity, which is already illegal under Ugandan law; convicted offenders could face the death penalty. "Promoting homosexuality" would also be illegal, as would a failure to report any of the above to police within 24 hours.

Even by regional standards, such penalties would be exceptionally harsh, especially since they would effectively criminalize the work of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts under the "promotion of homosexuality clause." The thinking behind them is just as disturbing, since this latest round of antigay fervor was kicked off at a conference held by by American missionary groups that went to proselytize about the twin evils of Nazism and homosexual behavior in Kampala earlier this year. Just to hammer home how far-out that is, this means the Ugandan government got its advice from the author of a book called The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which claims the Nazi movement was "entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history." The result has been a vigilante campaign against the country's LGBT community, whereby gay detainees are tortured and tabloids publish the names, places of employment, addresses, and physical descriptions of gay-rights advocates under headlines that scream "TOP HOMOS IN UGANDA NAMED." It would seem the stuff of Orwellian parody, but it's real.

Read the rest.

1 comment:

tnmarky said...

Terry Gross interviews Jeff Sharlet about the Family on Fresh Air and he summarizes this issue:

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