After dragging its feet for a few weeks, the Obama administration is preparing to follow the lead of our allies in Europe by cutting some aid and shifting recipients of other forms of aid to Uganda. Unfortunately, no steps will be taken to help potential victims of the law escape its grasp.
The administration has settled on four steps to be taken immediately in response to Uganda’s anti-gay law, sources who were briefed on the matter said. Following the publication of this story, National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Lalley confirmed the steps in an email and provided some additional details on the plans. He said that in addition to the immediate action, the U.S would continue “to look at additional steps we may take, to work to protect LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination, and to urge Uganda to repeal this abhorrent law.”
“As we continue to consider the implications of President Museveni’s decision to enact the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the United States has taken certain immediate steps to demonstrate our support for the LGBT community in Uganda, deter other countries from enacting similar laws, and reinforce our commitment to the promotion and defense of human rights for all people — including LGBT individuals — as a U.S. priority,” Lalley said.
Money will be shifted away from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, a group that has publicly come out in support of the anti-gay law and has received millions of dollars in grants from the United States to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Some $2.3 million will continue to go to the IRCU to continue treatment for some 50,000 current patients, but an additional $6.4 million intended for the IRCU will go to other organizations.Second, because the law makes “promoting homosexuality” illegal, a U.S. funded study to help identify populations at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS has been suspended. The study, which was going to be conducted by a Ugandan university and the Center for Disease Control, has been suspended out of fear that both staff and survey respondents could be put in danger.
Third, because any LGBT person or LGBT ally who now enters Uganda is at risk, money intended for tourism programs will be redirected.
“Therefore, approximately $3 million in funding designated for tourism and biodiversity promotion will be redirected to NGOs working on biodiversity protection,” Lalley said.
And finally, the Department of Defense had several events scheduled in the country later this spring and those will be moved to other locations. “Certain near-term invitational travel” for Ugandan military and police personnel has also been suspended or canceled.
But none of that will actually help the victims. We need to announce more liberal asylum rules for those fleeing the country, as Scotland has done.