Associated Press (12.04.11) - Monday, December 05, 2011
Some AIDS advocates and prevention workers worry that a new
anti-gay bill in Nigeria could put their work in jeopardy if
it becomes law. Passed recently by the Senate, the bill
criminalizing gay marriage also levels 10 years in prison for
organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations,
and meetings. Advocates say it could be used against groups
providing HIV/AIDS outreach to gay men.
"We work with them trying to reduce their risk factors, trying
to make them more healthy and have safer sex practices," said
Meyiwa Ede of Society for Family Health. "If we can't work
with them anymore, then they are vulnerable."
UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently threatened to cut aid
for African countries that discriminate against gays and
lesbians, and advocates fear that could impact HIV/AIDS work.
However, while the US and UK governments have issued
statements saying they are watching the bill closely, neither
commented on how that outreach could be affected were the bill
to pass the House and be signed into law by Nigerian President
Such a law would not affect state-funded HIV programs, said
Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria's health minister. The ministry has
no programs specifically targeting gays and lesbians, said
spokesperson Rekia Zubairu.
An estimated 80 percent of HIV infections in Nigeria are
acquired heterosexually, according to new data from the
country's National Agency for the Control of AIDS.