While Uganda, Nigeria organizations confront civil society crackdowns, a reporting system offers answers, pundits ponder snubs and sanctions . . . We’re reading about responses to rights restrictions

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NewWWRLast week, we read a physician’s take on why the International Human Rights Defense Act (S. 2472), proposed by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is essential to protecting U.S. investments in the global fight against AIDS. This week, we’re catching up on stories that spell it out . . .

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill – From the people who brought Nigeria the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2013, which introduced harsh new penalties for being gay or offering services and support to gay people, now comes the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill. The new bill doesn’t bode well for efforts to support struggling HIV services for gay people and others in Nigeria already marginalized by discriminatory laws, bias and neglect. As this article notes, one implication of the bill would be that donors supporting HIV, or other services, could be restricted to working only with the government.

Ugandan Court Rules Government Can Stop LGBT Groups: Following a similar trend, a judge in Uganda ruled that the government had a right to shut down an organizational skills training workshop for activists, because it condoned homosexuality — although this action took place before this year’s repressive Anti-Homosexuality Law was enacted. “I think this is the second or third nail into our coffin,” this Buzzfeed article quotes a co-chair of a coalition opposing Uganda’s law.

Using a Reporting System to Protect the Human Rights of People Living with HIV and Key Populations – This article in the Health and Human Rights Journal examines the potential of rights protecting mechanisms to ensure the health care access and safety of those threatened by laws, violence, other discriminatory barriers and institutionalized neglect. Looking at ways to use  existing legal frameworks, build capacities of organizations, and link marginalized people to legal representation, it focuses on Ghana, where those components make possible a reporting system to track barriers to HIV services.

US, German Support for Sodomy-accused disappoints State – In Zambia, where HIV treatment activist Paul Kasonkomona was criminally charged for saying recognition of gay rights is critical to HIV-fighting efforts, Philip Mubiana and James Mwape have been in jail for more than a year on charges of “practicing homosexuality.” If convicted, they face 15 years each in prison, where rates of HIV and AIDS are more than twice as high as in the general population. This article, in the government-owned Zambia Daily Mail tells of the government’s “disappointment” when U.S. and German diplomats visited the men on what was to be their sentencing day. The sentencing was postponed, so stay tuned to see if the embassy representatives will return.

Nigerian, Ugandan diplomats snubbed from Canada Day Celebrations – While getting dropped from the guest list of Canada Day festivities pales in comparison to being insulted, imprisoned and denied healthcare, it is nice to see a response that includes mention of both countries.

U.S. sanctions tread lightly on Uganda’s ‘odious’ anti-gay laws – “If they wanted to do something robust, they could have, but they did not,” this article quotes a Ugandan lawyer and civil rights defender saying of recently announced steps by the White House to redirect aid in response to Uganda’s laws. This article examines both the constraints, and the expectations in efforts to affirm a human rights stance and protect health investments amid competing concerns.

Is the United States Cutting Aid to Uganda Going to Help?
This article, in turn, revisits arguments that reduction in resources and backlash against U.S. cuts will lead to further abuses of Uganda’s sexual minorities.

WhatWereWatchingJohn Oliver breaks down origins, impact of Uganda’s law with Uganda activist Pepe Julian Onziema – From a rousing celebration of rights advances in the U.S., to a painful confrontation (painful, that is, Oliver notes,  for a British-born, American-based commentator) with the source of homophobic laws abroad, to the interview at the end, this piece puts everything in perspective.

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