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Int’l Rights Group Accuses Bush Admin. Of Funding African Violent Attacks On Gays

Posted by pozlife on October 11, 2007

 


by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: October 10,  2007 – 5:00 pm ET

(New York City) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Thursday that it has uncovered evidence that the Bush administration has funded groups in Uganda that actively promote violence and discrimination against lesbians and gay men.

In a letter to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, IGLHRC criticized the funding and asked for assurances that future will not be used to support homophobic organizations anywhere in the world.

The IGLHRC said it began an investigation into the groups following a series of events in Uganda this summer. 

At an August 16 press conference, Sexual Minorities of Uganda – a coalition of LGBT groups – launched Let us Live in Peace Campaign, calling for understanding and respect of sexual minorities. (story)

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and is punishable by between 14 years and life imprisonment. Last year, the Ugandan Parliament passed a constitutional amendment making same-sex marriages illegal.

The Let us Live in Peace campaign was met with an increase in hate speech by religious groups. 

The primary instigator of the backlash, said the IGLHRC, was Pastor Martin Ssempa, leader of the Makerere University Community Church and spokesman for the Interfaith Family Culture Coalition Against Homosexuality in Uganda. 

Ssempa organized an August 21 rally in Kampala at which more than one hundred demonstrators, including several government officials, demanded official action against LGBT people. 

Ssempa has called homosexuality, “a criminal act against the laws of nature,” and has said that, “there should be no rights granted to homosexuals in this country.”

According to the U.S. Embassy in Uganda’s website, Makerere University Community Church received a grant under a program designed to provide funds for AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs in Africa. 

Ssempa and his coalition, which includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelicals, have threatened the safety of Ugandan LGBT rights activists by posting their names, photos and addresses on a website.

With support from conservative organizations such as Family Watch International in the United States, Ssempa has launched attacks not only on homosexuals but on Uganda’s women’s rights and HIV activists as well, the IGLHRC said.

“The U.S. government’s funding is meant to alleviate suffering and support effective AIDS initiatives in Africa, not to further blame and stigmatize already marginalized groups,” said IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick.

IGLHRC said it provided Ambassador Dybul with evidence of grants made by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Makerere University Community Church.

The IGLHRC also said it found that the Uganda Muslim Tabliqh Women’s Desk has also received a grant under the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to implement HIV programs in Masaka District. 

Recently, Muslim Tabliqh youth announced a plan to form an ‘Anti-Gay Squad’ to fight homosexuality in Uganda. 

On 28 August 2007, Sheikh Multah Bukenya, a senior cleric in the Tabliqh Organization, was quoted during prayers at Noor Mosque in Kampala as saying that his followers are “ready to act swiftly and form this squad that will wipe out all abnormal practices like homosexuality in our society.”

PEPFAR is a $15 billion Bush administration fund to fight AIDS in Africa. 

According to IGLHRC’s 2007 report, “Off the Map: How HIV/AIDS Programming is Failing Same-Sex Practicing People in Africa,” less than U.S. $1 million targets HIV programs for men who have sex with men in Africa, despite strong evidence that HIV has a disproportionate impact on LGBT communities throughout the continent.

According to IGLHRC, the complicated PEPFAR sub-granting process lacks transparency and makes it difficult to track the funding.

“What we do know, is that few PEPFAR dollars are being used to fight HIV among gay men in Africa,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Senior Specialist for Africa.

“Not only have African men who have sex with men been largely ignored with regard to HIV prevention services, but avowedly homophobic organizations are receiving funding for programs that will only further stigmatize homosexuality. This has to stop.”

IGLHRC has called for increased transparency in the distribution of U.S. government HIV/AIDS funding internationally and a commitment by U.S. administrators that organizations espousing hate speech will not be funded.

Source: Gay News From 365Gay.com

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