HRW: US should halt funds for homophobic Uganda

The United States should reconsider funding anti-HIV/Aids strategies in Uganda, where recipients of such money violate the rights of homosexuals, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The New York-based watchdog group, in a letter to US officials on Thursday, said Ugandan officials and the media have intensified attacks on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

It said a prominent anti-condom and anti-gay pastor, whose church has received US funding for so-called “abstinence and fidelity programmes” for the fight against Aids, listed the names and pictures of gay rights campaigners on a website.

Also, a local tabloid last month published the first names, workplaces and other details of 39 alleged homosexuals—all men—under a banner headline “Homo Terror” and promised to “name and shame top gays in the city”.

“The US government should condemn these threats and clarify that it does not support using its HIV/Aids funding to promote homophobia,” HRW said in the letter.

“When the US funds abstinence-only programmes in Uganda, it tells people that LGBT people’s sexualities are dangerous and must be denied,” said Scott Long, the group’s director of the LGBT.

Various attempts by Uganda’s gay and lesbian people to seek recognition and respect have been thwarted by authorities, who backed a march in August by at least 100 Christians and Muslim clerics in the streets of Kampala to condemn them.

As in much of Africa, homosexuality is illegal, and in Uganda it is punishable by imprisonment up to life.

“US politicians and pocketbooks underwrite hatred in Uganda,” Long said. “The US has no business lending an aura of respectability to policies that undermine human rights and public health.”

“Supporting prejudice with cash is an approach with deadly consequences for all,” Long said.

HRW has in the past called on Kampala to decriminalise homosexuality and asked officials to stop making homophobic statements.—AFP


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