Backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government aid and millions more from U.S. evangelical churches, the nation of Uganda is waging direct attack against the human rights of gay and lesbian people elsewhere across Africa.
Uganda’s New Vision reported on July 22 (via allAfrica.com) that “Uganda has opposed the pending recognition of a South African gay rights group, Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), as an official observer at all African Union conferences, and to contribute to the NGO’s forum.”
The article quotes Ugandan ambassador Rosette Nyirinkindi as saying equal application of human rights to all is “alien to our culture and values. We shall continue to resist and fight them because common sense dictates against them. They are outlawed in Uganda and most African countries.”
In 2009, the United States committed nearly $300 million in supposed federal anti-AIDS funding in Uganda. At least $5 million of that was to be dispensed for military ventures through the U.S. Department of Defense; millions more in military aid were budgeted through other channels. Meanwhile, tens of millions of dollars annually from the federal anti-AIDS budget are being laundered through conservative Catholic and evangelical organizations that promote antigay, abstinence-only education programs which have resulted in a resurgence of HIV/AIDS in Uganda since 2004.
RH Reality Check criticized U.S. funding for anti-scientific, abstinence-only programs in an article today. The article blasts the government’s token efforts at “comprehensive” prevention:
If you give condoms only to groups thought of by society as “promiscuous,” what do you think will happen to a woman who insists on condom use with her husband that she suspects of cheating? If you do not provide information about using female and male condoms to young people, even if they successfully delay sex for years, how do you expect them to know how to use them once they start having sex?
“Comprehensive prevention” is not a country-level concept—it is an individual-level concept. Everyone has the right to, and the need for, full information about how to be healthy. That’s the only way it makes sense.
Each and every person served by PEPFAR prevention programs should receive full information about how to use condoms, and should have access to female and male condoms. Instead of pouring scarce resources in programs we know don’t work, we have got to start only funding true comprehensive prevention.
Millions of dollars that are not being spent on true comprehensive prevention are instead being invested in antigay evangelical campaigns to stigmatize and criminalize same-sex orientation.