Thursday, November 24, 2016

In Anti-Gay Crackdown, Tanzania Suspends U.S.-Funded AIDS Programs

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency and the emboldening of Christofascists and haters in general that has been a key part of Trump's campaign has not just LGBT Americans terrified.  LGBT communities overseas, especially in Africa and Muslim nations are worried that the new regime will usher in an end to America's stance in support of LGBT rights and the decriminalizing of homosexuality.  Based on what is happening in Tanzania, such fears appear to be completely justified. For years American Christofascists have been exporting anti-gay extremism to developing nations and brainwashing the locals into believing that homosexuality is a colonial import to their countries when the truth is just the opposite.  Anti-gay beliefs and penal code provisions were imported to those nations by - you guessed it - Christian missionaries who were obsessed with imposing Victorian sexual mores on the inhabitants of their colonies.  As noted in many previous posts, wherever the missionaries went tolerance, if not full acceptance of homosexuality, was brutally stamped out, with those involved in same sex relations being executed and/or imprisoned.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the anti-gay jihad underway in Tanzania.  Here are highlights:
 East African nations have launched some of the world’s most vicious campaigns against gay men and women, outlawing same-sex liaisons and threatening punishments of years in jail.
But in a move that has alarmed health workers, Tanzania is turning its anti-homo­sexual fury in a new direction — targeting HIV/AIDS programs that have helped tame a disease that once ravaged the region.
Last month, the minister of health announced that Tanzania will ban HIV/AIDS outreach projects aimed at gay men, pending a review. That forced the closure, at least temporarily, of U.S.-funded programs that provide testing, condoms and medical care to gays. About 30 percent of gay men in Tanzania are HIV-positive; now health workers say that figure could rise.
Tanzania’s actions appear to mark the first time that a country has suspended parts of the United States’ hugely successful foreign HIV/AIDS initiative in an attempt to crack down on the gay community. 
The ban comes after months of bitter speeches and threats from Tanzanian officials aimed at the gay community and at organizations treating its HIV/AIDS patients. This year, police raided two U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS organizations and seized confidential patient information and supplies, officials said. In September, the deputy minister of health, Hamisi Kigwangalla, accused HIV treatment organizations of “promoting homosexuality.”
People convicted of same-sex liaisons in Tanzania can be jailed for up to 30 years.
The health minister, Ummy Mwalimu, explained in a statement last month that officials had suspended HIV/AIDS outreach programs for gay patients to review whether they promoted same-sex relationships.
“In the short term, there are people who won’t go to [health] service centers, and if they aren’t on antiretrovirals, what happens? It’s a major concern,” said Warren Naamara, a doctor who is the director of the U.N. program on HIV/AIDS in Tanzania, referring to the drugs that suppress the virus.
PEPFAR, or the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, launched by George W. Bush with bipartisan support, has become one of the most important U.S. assistance programs ever in Africa. Tanzania is an example of its success. Since 2002, the overall HIV/AIDS rate in the country has declined from 12 percent to 5 percent. The number of people receiving treatment has grown in the past five years from 289,000 to over 700,000.
But even as assistance programs have sharply reduced the death toll from AIDS, some countries in eastern Africa have been escalating their campaigns against homosexuality. . . . This year, a Kenyan high court ruled that “anal tests” aimed at determining people’s sexual orientation were legal.
[S]ince John Magufuli was elected president last year, the government’s tolerance on the issue has disintegrated. Although Magufuli has not said anything publicly about homosexuality, a number of his appointees have made harsh remarks. Critics of gay rights say this nation — which has large numbers of Muslims and Christians — must protect traditional values.
U.S. officials said they are hopeful that the outreach programs will soon be restored, noting that the health minister has said the government is considering which HIV services would be appropriate for the gay community. But members of that community are pessimistic.
“It’s clear that the government doesn’t care whether we live or die,” said one 22-year-old gay man who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of punishment.
The take away?  That religion - especially those of the Abrahamic tradition - are a pestilence on society.  The embrace of ignorance and hatred of others are the twin pillars of all three variations.  Judaism and Christianity devolve from myths written by ignorant unknown authors  while Islam traces to a man who nowadays would be permanently locked up in a psych ward.   Yet, we still give deference to these so-called faiths.  Why?  

No comments: