Ugandan President signs anti-homosexuality bill, hinders HIV/AIDS control efforts

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law today an anti-homosexuality bill which criminalizes homosexual acts, despite vocal opposition by global health leaders who say such legislation not only violates human rights, but will reverse gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, where over 1.5 million people are living with HIV.

The bill proposes life in prison for anyone who commits “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes homosexual acts committed by people infected with HIV.

President Museveni’s reliance on Ugandan scientists who claim to have found no genetic basis for homosexuality has angered physicians and scientists. In a statement released last week by the HIV Medicine Association and the IDSA Center for Global Health Policy, which produces this blog, Joel Gallant, MD, and Kenneth Mayer, MD, call on President Museveni to reconsider the law, and denounces his reference “to outdated and discredited ‘science’ to justify his decision to sign the bill into law.”

“And we reiterate that current, evidence-based findings show that the law will have as devastating an impact public health as it will on human rights,” they write.

They call on the U.S. government to take steps to ensure the safety of health care providers and patients receiving services from PEPFAR-funded programs, and also to reserve U.S. funding for HIV responses to non-governmental organizations that are committed to the human rights of all people who seek services.

Nigerian President Goodluck Johnson’s signing of a similar bill recently was followed by mob violence in that nation’s capital against people suspected of being gay.

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