What you need to know:
- The US Embassy in Uganda has come out to clarify that it is not promoting homosexuality as some lawmakers are implying. According to a statement from the US Embassy Spokesperson Anthony Kujama, “the United States isn’t asking for special rights for LGBTQI+ persons: we’re asking that they receive the same rights that all other Ugandans do.
Following the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Parliament recently, the United States government placed the Ugandan government on notice regarding its support towards the health sector, specifically the HIV/Aids support program. The United States Government spends close to $500 million in annual health assistance.
Following the notice from the Pepfar office, a number of members of Parliament put up flak and accused the US government of “intimidation” and an attempt to push the country into normalizing homosexuality, accusations, which were patently false.
However, the US Embassy in Uganda has come out to clarify that it is not promoting homosexuality as some lawmakers are implying. According to a statement from the US Embassy Spokesperson Anthony Kujama, “the United States isn’t asking for special rights for LGBTQI+ persons: we’re asking that they receive the same rights that all other Ugandans do.
We’re not trying to promote homosexuality or anything like that. We don’t want straight people to be gay: we want all people to be safe. We are promoting a world where no one is subjected to violence or discrimination”.
For now, the US Embassy spokesperson maintains that US funding under Pepfar is still ongoing and has not been terminated. “Postponement of the COP23 presentation does not “freeze” or “cut” the essential services and support provided through PEPFAR across Uganda.
The postponement of the final COP23 presentation will allow PEPFAR more time to assess the evolving legislation... ”
One core area under health that is bound to suffer immensely should the Bill be allowed to proceed is the country’s HIV response where Pepfar is one of the biggest donors. Currently, close to 70 percent of all funding being used to purchase HIV drugs in the country is provided by funds from Pepfar.
According to Dr Shaban Mugerwa at Uganda AIDS Commission, Uganda cannot be able to realise its global commitment of ending AIDS by 2030 if the current bill is allowed to proceed. This is because it makes it difficult for a critical group of people who need HIV services to access them and without treatment, HIV prevention is impossible.
According to Uganda AIDS Commission, the apex body that coordinates HIV work in the country, in its strategic plan (2020 -2025), the success of Uganda’s interventions lie in an all-inclusive strategic plan that is able to ensure that all those who need HIV prevention and treatment services get them.
Among these is what Uganda AIDS Commission plan refers to as the Priority Populations or the Most At-Risk categories of people. This category includes Fisher Folk communities, Commercial Sex Workers and Gay communities.
The US embassy maintains that American support is based on human rights that are non-discriminatory. Everybody who needs health services should be allowed to access them.
“Treating marginalised populations with the same respect as others and providing them equal access to health care and other public services serves to keep all Ugandans healthier and more secure”.
Archie Luyimbazi works as media coordinator, National HIV Partnership