U.S. blames Uganda for raid on gay-friendly AIDS clinic

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf

The U.S. State Department has blamed the Ugandan government for the April 3 raid that led to the closing of a U.S.-funded health clinic serving HIV-positive LGBT patients in Kampala.

In a press statement, Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said:

We are deeply concerned that a U.S.-funded health clinic and medical research facility, the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP), was raided by Ugandan authorities on April 3, leading to the arrest of one of the facility’s employees, allegedly for conducting “unethical research” and “recruiting homosexuals.”

While that individual was subsequently released, this incident significantly heightens our concerns about respect for civil society and the rule of law in Uganda, and for the safety of LGBT individuals.

The MUWRP is engaged in efforts to improve public health and save lives.

The Ugandan government is responsible for protecting all of its people, and attacks and intimidation of health care workers are unacceptable.

The safety of health workers must be respected. We have temporarily suspended the operations of MUWRP to ensure the safety of staff and beneficiaries, and the integrity of the program.

The raid was the first prominent assault on an AIDS health center since the enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which provides a life sentence for homosexual activity and seven years in prison for anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.”

The project was targeted for “training youths in homosexuality,” Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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