Several East African countries have banned same-sex relationships and threatened jail time for offenders. For months, Tanzanian officials delivered several speeches and threats against the gay community and organizations serving HIV/AIDS patients. Police also raided HIV/AIDS organizations and took confidential patient information as well as supplies. Last month, through a measure that has alarmed health care workers, the minister of health of Tanzania announced a ban on HIV/AIDS outreach projects targeted at gay men. This measure resulted in a temporary cessation of US-funded programs that offer testing, condoms, and medical care to gay communities.
Nearly 30 percent of gay men in Tanzania are HIV-positive. Tanzania’s ban is the first time in history that a country has stopped portions of the United States’ foreign HIV/AIDS initiative in a move meant to strike out at the gay community. The US campaign was founded in 2003 and has been supported by $65 billion. Over the years, it has saved millions across the globe. According the the deputy minister of health, Hamisi Kigwangalla, HIV treatment organizations promote homosexuality and “any attempt to commit unnatural offenses is illegal and severely pushed by law.”
- Linda Shin