Newsweek: PEPFAR funds will not be held for Uganda

Katie Paul at Newsweek has an interview with the US PEPFAR coordinator, Eric Goosby, today. She sets up the story by referring to the infamous ex-gay conference in March. 

The thinking behind them [Anti-Homosexuality Bill] is just as disturbing, since this latest round of anti-gay fervor was kicked off at a conference held by by American missionary groups that went to proselytize about the twin evils of Nazism and homosexual behavior in Kampala earlier this year. Just to hammer home how far-out that is, this means the Ugandan government got its advice from the author of a book called The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which claims the Nazi movement was “entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” The result has been a vigilante campaign against the country’s LGBT community, whereby gay detainees are tortured and tabloids publish the names, places of employment, addresses, and physical descriptions of gay rights advocates under headlines that scream “TOP HOMOS IN UGANDA NAMED.” It would seem the stuff of Orwellian parody, but it’s real.

To Paul’s question about US funding, Goosby replied:

I’m very concerned about any decision that any country–including our own–would make to target a group that’s in the population, and that’s always been in the population, by excluding them from a service or passes legislation that criminalizes their behavior. Everytime you do that, you push the behavior underground. It never works. Rather than minimizing the spread of the virus, it actually amplifies it.

The U.S. policy is trying to work with governments to say exactly that. I think I would do more harm than good by connecting our resources to respond to the epidemic to making them dependent on a behavior that they’re not willing to engage in on their own. My role is to be supportive and helpful to the patients who need these services. It is not to tell a country how to put forward their legislation.

Goosby goes on to suggest diplomacy will work if he points out the public health argument. Will this work? I don’t have much confidence in this. Go read Katie’s thoughts on the matter and the Obama policy.



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