But ribbon cuttings are under consideration . . .
Four days after the President Yoweri Museveni signed Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, USAID Uganda Mission Director Leslie Reed sent a memo to the contractors, nonprofit organizations and government agencies with which the mission works advising “that all external events, ribbon cuttings, workshops, launches and/or program close-outs now require USAID/Uganda pre-approval.”
It was a small, and, to many, overdue step in the “internal review” of the U.S. government’s relationship with Uganda, United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced the day the law was signed “to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles . . .”
By then, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, which, according to its website has received PEPFAR/USAID funding since 2006 to deliver palliative care and antiretroviral treatment services to people with HIV, had published a press release in Uganda’s New Vision newspaper pressuring Museveni to sign the bill. Published February 8, after Museveni had expressed reservations on the legislation, IRCU’s press release also called “upon all Ugandans to take appropriate measures to protect themselves, their families and children from this vice that is being directed at the population.” It closed by encouraging Museveni to sign the bill, “just like his colleague in Nigeria.” By then, reports of arrests, beatings and torture of suspected gay men had followed Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature on that country’s anti-gay bill. The fiscal year 2013 PEPFAR country operational plan report for Uganda released in January 2014 shows the Inter-Religious Council getting $3.3 million in U.S. funding for HIV responses, including efforts “expanding access to HIV prevention care and treatment.” The start and end dates of the funding are redacted in the document, but reportedly the funding continues at least until the end of the year.
“Now that the anti-homosexuality law has been enacted we’re continuing to look closely at the implications of the new law, and where appropriate, we have adjusted some activities and engagements while we are doing that,” a U.S. State Department representative told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday. She offered an example: U.S. funding had been topping off the salaries of 18 Uganda senior health officials “who are speaking on behalf of and implementing policy.” That money expired last month, she added.
In the meantime, this video about the petition against Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Act filed at Uganda’s Constitutional Court by Ugandan civil society and political leaders, features an opposition Parliament Members arguments against the law, and against rationalizations that have been used to support it. “Let us end the argument that this is about the West, and Africa,” he says. The law, he reminds viewers, was introduced by American fundamentalist pastors, and the propaganda used to advance the law, he says, “tells me that the motives are sinister.”