Uganda Gays, Lesbian and Bisexual Rights

Uganda
Uganda has crossed the line, from supporting verbal assault on gay Ugandans to posing a serious threat to any gay Ugandan’s security and the security of any person or NGO who even knows a homosexual in Uganda. Since 2004, Uganda has received $1.2 billion for AIDS-related programs; and this year Uganda is receiving an additional $285 million. During this time, Uganda has moved toward ever more violent homophobic verbal assault and legislative proposals.

uganda

An open letter to the global AIDS coordinator U.S. must denounce dangerous rising tide of homophobia in Africa before sending more aid money

By: Charles C. Francis

DEAR DR. GOOSBY:

Allow me to add my congratulations on your appointment as Global AIDS Coordinator. Your record of work and leadership is so much appreciated by all who care about the global AIDS pandemic.

As a former member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), who is openly gay, I respectfully come forward to tell you of the increasing concern — even alarm — among Americans at the tide of dangerous homophobia in Africa.

This homophobia is neither “traditional” nor “cultural”; it is political and dangerous. The sense of alarm is sharpened by the fact that American lawmakers are asked to appropriate billions of dollars through the PEPFAR program to many of the countries now escalating anti-gay rhetoric into a verbal assault with threats to imprison gay Africans and NGO workers.

A growing number of PEPFAR countries are considering legislative proposals to criminalize homosexuality with a death penalty, enact bans on homosexual organizations and to imprison homosexual citizens. This is painful for all who have been supportive of humanitarian programs such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and PEPFAR.

PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) is the largest public health program in our nation’s history, authorized for up to $48 billion by 2013, the largest initiative ever committed to a single disease, and it is for Africa.

I urge you to convey to PEPFAR aid recipients that the current verbal assault and threats to gay Africans are contrary to the core humanitarian values that are the foundation of PEPFAR. Most important, this will backfire in the United States Congress as the American public learns of this persecution.

I will be encouraging my fellow “alums” of PACHA, who have served since its formation in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, to call for a “hold” or “review” of PEPFAR funding for those countries that jail homosexuals, invent new crimes such as “aggravated homosexuality” (Uganda), threaten death penalties for homosexuals, require citizen-informants to identify homosexuals and scapegoat gay Africans.

Uganda has crossed the line, from supporting verbal assault on gay Ugandans to posing a serious threat to any gay Ugandan’s security and the security of any person or NGO who even knows a homosexual in Uganda. Since 2004, Uganda has received $1.2 billion for AIDS-related programs; and this year Uganda is receiving an additional $285 million. During this time, Uganda has moved toward ever more violent homophobic verbal assault and legislative proposals.

This culminated following your successful trip there, with the introduction — by a parliamentarian from the government majority — of the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009.” This proposed legislation puts any person alleged to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender at risk of life imprisonment and, in some circumstances, death. Under this proposed legislation, citizens and NGO’s who might “harbor” a homosexual will be required to report any suspected homosexual to the government or face jail.

THIS IS A critical juncture for PEPFAR before the world community. Will we stand by and let national governments scapegoat a sexual minority for HIV/AIDS while receiving major funding for AIDS relief? Will the U.S. fund radical, anti-gay prevention programs that could become a model for other parliaments and governments?

In conclusion, “verbal assault” is not individual expression of political opinion or free expression of strong differences in civil society. “Verbal assault” is designed by government — and promoted by government — to instill fear, divert people with scapegoats, galvanize electoral majorities and to accrue power by creating a pariah, a man or woman who is made “socially dead” (Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners).

If not checked, verbal assault leads to physical violence and imprisonment. PEPFAR must call for a cessation, through diplomatic and public channels, of the verbal and legislative assault on African gays.

Similarly, in a “multi-partner world”, PEPFAR partners — businesses, foundations, universities and faith-based partners — need to come forward and make their views known. Silence is a form of passive assent in this situation.

AMERICANS HAVE BEEN supportive of international AIDS relief efforts, but we cannot be asked to turn our backs on African gays and NGO workers subjected to the most demeaning and dangerous verbal assault and threats of imprisonment with gay death penalties.

The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission has called for a swift dismissal of the Ugandan legislation and campaign, and an end to homosexual persecution across Africa.

The time for “quiet diplomacy” has passed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been sent a congressional letter of concern, raising the PEPFAR issue, signed by Howard Berman, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).

I believe there are many former members of PACHA who are people of good will, Republican and Democrat, secular and religious, who will agree that these brutal appeals, unless confronted, will threaten PEPFAR and Global Fund appropriations at current levels, and reasonably raise the question of whether the U.S. should spend more of our AIDS dollars at home.

Related story: See Pictures from Protesters

8 thoughts on “Uganda Gays, Lesbian and Bisexual Rights

  1. Oppose Cruelty and Speak Up For LGBTQ Human Rights in Uganda!

    Join LGBTQ equality and human rights allies on Thursday, November 19 at 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for a peaceful, lawful, vocal and united demonstration in protest against hate and oppression.

    WHERE:

    The Ugandan Embassy to the United States
    5911 16th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20011
    (2 miles north of Columbia Heights Metro Stop on 16TH street);
    (1 mile northwest of the Georgia Ave/Petworth Metro Stop on Quincy Street, also accessible via 16th Street buses)

    If passed, Bill Number 18 introduced in the Ugandan Parliament, will make homosexuality an offense punishable by death in Uganda. The vote on the bill may take place as early as January 2010. The Ugandan LGBTQ community has urged demonstrations of solidarity around the world in protest and to let Ugandan leaders know the whole world is watching.

    If adopted, would undermine Congressional funding for PEPFAR and other U.S. tax dollars that help Uganda fight AIDS.

  2. Please take out my name on uganda’s gay and lesbians as it does not look good on my name but you can leave my name on uganda beautiful women please, thanks for your understanding.

  3. gays in uganda should be banned whiteman activities are not for the black people to adopt and uganda is a country where religion plays a big role in day to day life not as america where there are non believers who do such horrible/immature activites like homosexuality…so gays should be banned the law should be passed hear our cries…

  4. The international community should put Museveni of Uganda of maxium pressure not to kill innocent civilians like us who have different sex oriantations

  5. I am against Gays and Lesbians.A man need to have female partner, not man on man.A woman need to aman, not woman on woman as this is against the Bible.Gays and Lesbians are leting God down.

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