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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid