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US may halt HIV/AIDS funding to Uganda over controversial anti-gay bill

The United States of America expressed its dissatisfaction with the passing of a Bill in the Ugandan Parliament in which lawmakers sought to make the punishment for people who identified in the queer community harsher.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his statement, said the ruling by the Ugandan Parliament undermines the fundamental rights of all Ugandans and could interfere with the progress in combating HIV/Aids in the country.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

We urge the Ugandan Government to reconsider the implementation of this legislation strongly,” said Secretary Blinken on March 22, 2023.

According to the American Department of State’s official website, the US has a budget exceeding $950 million per year to offer assistance to Uganda.

Also read: US meets LGBTQ members as Kenya intensifies protest

The western nation claim to play a key role in “improving health outcomes by strengthening Uganda’s capacity to sustainably address emerging health threats, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, maternal/child health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS (including by providing anti-retroviral treatment for more than 1.2 million Ugandans)”.

The State’s assistance to Uganda also includes boosting economic growth and agricultural productivity, helping Uganda to improve tax collection and oil revenue management, increasing Uganda’s domestic funding for public services and the national response to HIV/AIDS. 

Secretary Blinken’s sentiments elicited mixed reactions as many wondered how laws targeting members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer plus community affected all Ugandans and their fight against HIV/Aids.

Global citizens also responded to Secretary Blinken, asking him to avoid dictating to other countries what their norms should be and not ‘force’ American values and sexual choices on other nations.

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These sentiments took the same stance General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, took when he called on anyone in Uganda unhappy with their Parliament’s decision to leave their “blessed country.”

“I hear some foreign companies (I don’t know which ones) want to leave the country because we passed the Anti-homosexual bill. We are willing to help them pack their bags and leave our blessed country forever! Uganda is God’s country! We will actually thrive without them,” said General Kainerugaba in his March 22, 2023, statement.

Nairobi News reported earlier that the Anti-homosexuality Bill passed by the Ugandan Parliament sought to slap anyone who identified as a member of the queer community or engaged in sexual relations with the same gender with 10 years in prison.

President Museveni also called for the studying of anyone found to be a member of the queer community to determine if they were homosexuals because they were born that way or because their environment and society around them influenced them into homosexuality.

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In prior press briefings, President Museveni branded homosexuals as deviants as he insisted on medical opinions to determine if it was by nature or nurture that some people practiced homosexuality.

“Western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by trying to impose their practices on other people. Europeans and other groups marry cousins and near relatives. Here, marrying in one’s clan is taboo. Should we impose sanctions on them for marrying relatives? This is not our job,” said President Museveni last week.

LGBTQ is accepted and celebrated in America; and the country is often quoted in the media urging other nations to legalize homosexuality in their countries. Often, America finds itself at odds on how to proceed after a nation turns down encouragement to embrace and legalize queer communities and associations.

In the past 10 years, Kenya was severally put on the spot for criminalizing homosexuality but former president Uhuru Kenyatta and President William Ruto stood their ground, saying homosexuality will never be accepted in Kenya and is a non issue for its citizens who are largely practicing Christians.

Also read: LGBTQ debate: Sauti Sol’s Chimano struggling with ‘loud noise’