WASHINGTON — Luiz Loures, deputy director of UNAIDS and assistant secretary general of the United Nations, said Wednesday that UNAIDS is ready to join a lawsuit filed in a Ugandan court on Tuesday challenging the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The agency has signed on to previous lawsuits challenging sodomy laws in Canada and one currently in Malawi’s courts, Loures told BuzzFeed following a panel at the World Bank on “The Economic Cost of Homophobia.” “We’ll be doing more,” he said. “And now there is a challenge in Uganda [that] we’re prepared to join as well.”
Loures said new strategies had to be found to push back on measures that make HIV services harder to access for LGBT people. “We need to change the way we are doing business, and that is a very radical statement,” he said.
Loures said one option needed to be diverting funds away from organizations that will not ensure they reach key populations, including men who have sex with men, or support policies like the Anti-Homosexuality Act that drives them underground.
Donor nations need “really to be more selective” in the organizations they fund in countries like Uganda, he said. Millions in HIV-relief dollars have gone to at least one organization that campaigned for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed into law last month and provides for sentences of up to life in jail for people caught engaging in gay sex. It also essentially bans LGBT rights advocacy.
Loures said donors should be guided by in-country LGBT movements. “In Uganda today, in Nigeria today, you will find [they are] well organized. They are fighting back, and this should be our reference point,” he said.