News / Africa

Uganda Police Detain US-Funded Project Staffer Over Gay Law

Anti-gay Pastor Martin Ssempa carries national flag while leading procession for Uganda's anti-gay bill, Kampala, March 31, 2014.
Anti-gay Pastor Martin Ssempa carries national flag while leading procession for Uganda's anti-gay bill, Kampala, March 31, 2014.
Reuters
A U.S.-funded health project in Uganda has suspended operations after police arrested a staff member on suspicion of promoting homosexuality, highlighting the mounting legal risks confronting the gay community in the east African state.

Uganda enacted legislation in February that strengthened punishments for anyone caught having gay sex, imposing jail terms of up to life for "aggravated homosexuality" — including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.

The United States, one of Uganda's major bilateral sources of aid, and other Western donors have halted or re-directed some $118 million in aid since President Yoweri Museveni signed the law, which also criminalized lesbianism for the first time.

In a notice on its website on Friday, Makerere University's Walter Reed Project, a collaboration between Uganda's biggest public institute of higher learning and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, said it would temporarily halt its work until it established the legal basis for the arrest.

The project said a Ugandan staff member was taken into custody by police at its offices in Kampala, and released without charge the same day.

It said that "until we have greater clarity as to the legal basis for the police action, the operations of the program are temporarily suspended" to ensure the safety of staff.

Police said they had been following an unnamed individual for days after getting reports he was involved in "gay-related activities," spokesman Ibn Ssekumbi said. "For some time we have been following an individual whom we learnt has been conducting promotion and training activities related to homosexuality."

Ssekumbi said the individual was then arrested, interrogated and released on bond but that an investigation was continuing into the suspect's alleged acts.

A U.S. State Department official said the health project conducts important research into Ebola, Marburg disease and HIV. One of the project's aims is to develop vaccines for these diseases. It has been in operation since 2002.

The project is fully funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Department of Defense, and the annual cost is $9.4 million.

Museveni has accused the West of seeking to impose social imperialism on Africa and told a rally on Monday that Uganda could live without humanitarian aid.

Critics say Museveni may have in part been prompted to back the legal crackdown on gays to shore up support. He is widely expected to seek another presidential term in 2016. He has ruled Uganda since 1986, a nation that now has some of the toughest anti-gay laws on a continent where 37 states ban homosexuality.

Rights groups say the new law is causing discrimination.

"How can Ugandans seek what should be confidential medical services when police appear without a legal basis and question and detain staff?" said Maria Burnett, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch's Africa Division.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tiger Lueth from: SS
April 05, 2014 11:18 AM
Some of the United States are against this stupid gay laws,because they believe the marriage should be between man and a woman just like the way God had created human being,Obama was a gay in college that's why he wanted to impose gay ism to those country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid