New anti-homosexuality laws that have gone into effect in Nigeria and Uganda this year have not only increased the already long jail sentences for same-sex sexual behavior in both countries, but also criminalized LGBT organizations and “the promotion” of homosexuality. Both laws put LGBT and the health providers and educators working with them at risk of criminal prosecution and violence and could potentially gut the national responses to HIV. amfAR has denounced these bills as “a gross violation of human rights.”
A protestor in front of the Nigerian Consulate in New York during the March 7 Global Day of Action against the Nigerian law. Action now is critical to support the leadership of our allies in Nigeria and Uganda in this time of crisis. Find out how you can participate below. In addition to reports of arrests and mob violence, news has emerged from both countries regarding the potential deadly effect on the response to HIV. amfAR’s grantee partners and other organizations have been forced to shut down their HIV services to protect both clients and staff. There are reports that the Ugandan Parliament is considering a bill that would mandate HIV testing for all most-at-risk population groups, including gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals (GMT). In Nigeria, advocates report that GMT are being removed from the government’s HIV surveillance program that tracks HIV rates by sub-populations. Russia and India have also instituted new anti-LGBT laws in recent months, and other countries, notably Kenya and Malawi, are beginning to consider similar draft laws.
The Uganda law punishes homosexuality with life in prison.In mid-February, President Obama called the Ugandan law, which punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with life in prison and those who “aid or abet” homosexual relations with seven years, “a step backward for all Ugandans.” He said that “enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda.” The Nigerian law punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage or union with 14 years in prison and others who participate in gay organizations, societies, or relationships with 10 years. “Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights,” said Navi Pillay, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, after the bill was signed into law in January. Petitions challenging the constitutionality of the laws have been filed in both countries.
amfAR has called on the U.S. Government to maintain funding for the response to HIV/AIDS and other health and development concerns while redirecting this aid away from governments that enact legislation infringing on basic human rights. This funding should instead be directed toward non-governmental and civil society organizations that serve the communities in these countries where aid is needed most. In addition, U.S. and European visas should be denied to these nations’ parliamentarians and their families.
Additional information on the anti-homosexuality laws:
amfAR Denounces Raid on the Makerere University Walter Reed Project by Ugandan Authorities
A Dangerous Downward Spiral
HIV, Uganda, and One Major Step Back
The Impact of the Nigerian and Ugandan Anti-Gay Laws on Public Health
Letter to President Obama Regarding Anti-Gay Laws in Nigeria and Uganda
Global Day of Action: A Nigerian Asylee’s Story about the Effects of the Anti-Same Sex Marriage Law
A Ugandan LGBT Activist Discusses the New Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Bill into Law and Nigeria Gears Up for Global Day of Action
amfAR Denounces Passage of Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Global Day of Action: Act Now against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act and HIV