Uganda President Signs Antigay Bill into Law
Move Sets Stage for Showdown With Donors, Activists.
The United Nations agency on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, warned last week that the Ugandan law could compel homosexuals to shun HIV testing and treatment to evade arrest. Only around 30% of the nation's 35 million people have been tested, according to government data. Western donors—including the U.S., Canada and European Union—have warned that the law could jeopardize Uganda's foreign aid, upon which the country relies for at least $2 billion every year. Maria E. Burnett, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Monday that by signing the bill into law, Mr. Museveni has dealt a "dramatic blow" to freedom of expression and association in the country. She warned that the legislation would distract police from more important tasks. "By signing this bill, Museveni has not only let down gay Ugandans; he has also failed the very constituencies he claims to be protecting, including children," she said.
Not all opposition has come from Western countries. South African retired Archbishop and Nobel Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu appealed for Mr. Museveni not to sign the bill, "criminalizing acts of love." Mr. Museveni, a Christian, this month said he would sign the bill, after citing a report from Ugandan medical experts who said homosexuality isn't "genetic but a social behavior." The U.S.-based medical group Infectious Diseases Society of America said on Monday that Mr. Museveni was relying on "outdated and discredited science" to justify his decision to sign the bill. "Current, evidence-based findings show that the law will have as devastating an impact on public health as it will on human rights," the group said. Uganda ranks 10th among the countries with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in Africa. More than two million Ugandans are infected with HIV/AIDS, according to U.N. data.
More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):