For Immediate Release
Joana Casas, Program Communications Manager
amfAR Denounces Passage of Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Calls on US Government to Maintain Health and Development Aid
but Reduce or Eliminate Direct Funding to Discriminatory Governments
NEW YORK, Feb. 25, 2014 -- amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, today condemned the signing into law of an anti-homosexuality bill that punishes homosexuality with life in prison, calling the bill “a gross violation of human rights.”
“The decision by President Museveni to sign the anti-homosexuality bill severely curtails the fundamental rights of gay men, lesbians and transgender people in Uganda, forcing an already vulnerable and marginalized community further underground,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “This action is the latest in a wave of anti-LGBT legislative activity in some parts of the world that threatens to roll back decades of progress on human rights and HIV/AIDS.”
amfAR also called on the U.S. Government to maintain funding for the response to HIV/AIDS and other health and development concerns while redirecting this aid away from governments that enact legislation infringing on basic human rights. This funding should instead be directed toward non-governmental and civil society organizations that serve the communities in these countries where aid is needed most.
The Ugandan bill follows the passage in January of a harsh new anti-gay law in Nigeria and the re-criminalization of homosexuality by the Indian Supreme Court in December. The Uganda law also criminalizes the “promotion of homosexuality,” a category that could include HIV outreach and services targeting gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals. Spectrum Uganda, an organization supported in part by amfAR and which last year provided HIV services to more than 1,000 members of the LGBT community in Kampala, has already been forced to shut down its HIV outreach and health services due to safety concerns.
HIV prevalence in Uganda, after steadily declining from the early 1990s to 2005, has begun to creep back up and is currently approximately seven percent. The government does not track the HIV rate among gay men specifically, but it is likely much higher than that of the general population. Gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals worldwide are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
“What we urgently need is a frank, global discussion about LGBT rights that recognizes and addresses the heightened vulnerability of gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people to HIV/AIDS,” said Kent Klindera, director of amfAR’s GMT Initiative. “Living without discrimination and being able to receive HIV and other health services are basic human rights, and we must stand up for the rights of this highly vulnerable population.”
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $388 million in its programs and has awarded more than 3,300 grants to research teams worldwide.