Sunday, 02 March 2014 22:48
And in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, US Ambassador to Uganda, Scott Delisi was more specific.
He said the US internal review of its relationship with Uganda may include denying visas to Ugandans who propagate hatred against homosexuals. Edward Ssekika transcribed the interview:
Scott started by expressing his views on the anti-homosexuality legislation.
What I read in the Red Pepper disturbs me greatly; I don’t think this is responsible journalism; it is a story that exposes people and puts their lives at risk.
This is not the nature of telling the story, it is designed to be sensationalist and it is designed to hurt people.
We have the example of 2011, of The Rolling Stone and the subsequent death of David Kato.
I will tell you as a matter of record, we as a government [United States], those who propagate hate, those who incite violence against others, what they do with their societies, I may not be able to control, but I can tell you they might not be welcome in the United States of America.
What about the concern of US aid to Uganda? Many people especially in the health sector are concerned about the ramifications of this, what can you tell us?
Yes, everyone is concerned about the ramifications both of the legislation and the ability to effectively deliver aid. We [US] have been a huge, huge partner of government in the health sector. Today there are 500,000 people [half a million people] who are alive and continue to live productive lives because the United States supports their anti-retroviral therapy [ARVs].
We have been fully committed on malaria and the fight against mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids. We have been committed on getting more people on treatment, addressing medical male circumcision and all these issues…
But obviously, if the matter touches the lesbian, gay, bisexual and Transgender community [LGBT] and if we have a legislation that impedes their ability to receive medical care, that will intimidate them, that will force them to go underground, definitely, there is a big question of whether or not aid can continue to be delivered in its current form.
Equally, there is a great concern that the providers themselves, health officers, NGOs that are working in these areas, they may be subject to arrest and detention. This law is highly problematic. So, we need to get these issues clarified such that we can determine how to move forward.
When you say people who propagate hate are not welcome in the United States, do you mean that they will be denied visas into the US?
Visas can be denied for people who incite violence, who propagate hate, political violence. There are many grounds on which we can deny a visa. I can tell you, we shall be carefully examining all these questions as we move forward.
I applaud the minister of Health statement about health care; it is wonderful to hear such statements but nonetheless, the way the law is written, is so vague. I need much clearer guidance on the principles on which they will enforce it. We shall also be looking at how this law affects our partnership moving forward and it is going to be a challenge.
But you know, we are so disappointed; they [Ugandan government] should review this law or it should be repealed. This is our basic position. But I will firmly say that I’m so disappointed when I hear people dismissing this partnership [aid], not only the United States but all the Western support to this country [Uganda]. I’m not saying all aid is at risk, but when I hear government saying ‘this [aid cuts] means nothing, it is not value to us, we don’t need it!’.
I ask myself what is the fate of a half a million Ugandans on ARVs, if it means nothing? Ask the mothers who will survive childbirth if it means nothing to them. I hope the people of Uganda will remember that is not a debate about cultural norms, practices and values, it is about core values and beliefs and our partnership that has existed for more than 50 years.
You are so angry about this law, but many Ugandans support their government and have come out in support of the law....
This is not about anger; it is about how we can continue with our partnership that has helped many people in Uganda for the last 50 years. We are disappointed; we think it’s wrong. We think it is a violation of basic human rights.
People can discuss about their values and cultural norms. We are not telling Africa what they should think, but we are articulating our core beliefs that we should not abet discrimination under the law.
What do you need to see happen with Uganda’s government for aid programmes to be secured?
The best answer is, respect for the rights of people. Repeal this legislation, think again just like with the anti-pornography legislation. The government of Uganda has no doubts about the position of the United States. It is clear from President Obama, Secretary [John] Kerry and from myself.
Many people have labelled US intervention on gays as social imperialism…
I think it is a foolish label. If our values will go to helping societies, the dignity of the individual, giving people the opportunity to live better lives, if that is social imperialism, then I’m a social imperialist. We respect the sovereignty of African countries, they are free to make their decisions, but they should not hide behind [the law]; don’t criticize us.
In the same programme, the BBC also interviewed Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the minister for Health, about the health implications of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Many people, including health professionals, are concerned that this law will interfere with the health rights of people…
This law will not in any way interfere with the rights of all people of Uganda to get the health care that they need and that they deserve.
Many leaders around the world have criticized Uganda on this law... What is your view on this?
I think people are at liberty to speak, but the most important element is that each society should be given the opportunity and respect, to manage its affairs in the broad lines, taking into account the cultures, the practices, the beliefs of their people. Nobody will be discriminated from public health care, simply because of his or her sexual orientation.
In real practice; there is no fundamental change that is going to take place, as far as medical treatment of Ugandans is concerned. Gay people, whether pronounced or otherwise, will be at complete liberty and by the way, health workers will live up to their ethics of keeping confidentiality with their patients.
There is also a concern of development partners cutting aid to Uganda; does this worry you or the government?
I don’t expect governments in the rest of the world to take decisions to withdraw support to Uganda, simply because Ugandans have said let us take some measures especially against people who may go to excesses to force sex on others to recruit people, to be gay or to go into exhibitionist activities.
USA says, Enactment of Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a violation of human rights : Oh! Really , when has the USA been genuinely interested in Human Rights
CAPITALISM DISSIMULATION AND MINORITY RIGHTS : A REFUTATION OF THE NATURALISTIC FOUNDATION OF GAY SEXUAL RIGHTS
Since when did the HIV creators become passionate about HIV spread: US Embassy in Kampala says Circumcision does reduce HIV spread
US cannot continue funding treatment and care yet more and more Ugandans are getting infected: Oh! really