American Interlopers Should Stay Home and Mind Their Own Business, Says TWO

Burlington, Vt. — Truth Wins Out blamed American Evangelical Christian organizations today for a spike in AIDS cases in Uganda, a nation that was once lauded as a success story in fighting this disease. Fundamentalist Christians, from politicians affiliated with The Fellowship, to preachers such as Lou Engle (pictured) and Rick Warren, have made frequent pilgrimages to Uganda to promote their faith and sell abstinence as the key to stopping the spread of H.I.V. The result of their misguided adventures is a devastating increase in AIDS.

“Uganda was the laboratory for evangelical polices on sex education and their risky experiment has blown up in their faces. What American ideologues have foisted on the Ugandan people is unforgivable and has caused an enormous amount of pain and suffering,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “By replacing sound science with their version of scripture, the American interlopers badly exacerbated the problem. They ought to feel deeply ashamed and stop interfering in a country where they have already done a staggering amount of damage.”

A new American-financed survey shows that Uganda is one of only two African countries, along with Chad, where AIDS rates are on the rise. The survey points out that H.I.V. infection rates in Uganda have increased to 7.3 percent today from 6.4 percent in 2005. Over approximately the same time period, the United States, through Pepfar, its AIDS prevention strategy, or the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, spent $1.7 billion in Uganda to fight AIDS.

According to The New York Times, the strategy may have merely succeeded in driving certain behaviors further underground in this socially conservative country with close ties to American evangelicals…Uganda’s hard-line approach toward homosexuality, which is outlawed here, also fuels the spread of AIDS, experts say. One report indicated that one-third of the male respondents who had sex with other men said they had previously been married to women and fathered children. Fewer than half use condoms.

“We have messages confusing what is right with what is safe,” Canon Gideon Byamugisha, a religious leader and AIDS activist in Uganda, told the New York Times. “If you have an environment that stigmatizes them, then don’t expect people to use condoms.”

“The American-fueled war against gay people in Uganda has been a disaster for efforts to limit the spread of H.I.V.,” said TWO’s Besen, who organized the American Prayer Hour in 2010 to draw attention to the fact that the leaders of the National Prayer Breakfast were partially responsible for introducing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. “We hope these alarming numbers will wake people up to the mischief caused by American zealots wasting taxpayer’s money to promote their ineffective policies in Uganda.”

Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.