UN officials says Uganda may lose AIDS research centre

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Uganda may lose the chance to host a major AIDS research institution if its parliament passes a bill against homosexuality, a United Nations official has said.

Catherine Hankins, the chief scientific advisor for UNAIDS, suggested that her organisation and the World Health Organisation (WHO) could take a decision on the location of the institution depending on whether the bill passes.

A meeting today decided that the Geneva-based African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) will be shifted to the Ugandan city of Entebbe.

But Hankins told AFP: “Criminalising adult consensual sex is not only a human rights issue, it goes against a good HIV strategy.

“If the bill passes, UNAIDS and WHO would have to decide what happens and to see whether this is an appropriate place.”

The private members’ bill is progressing through Uganda’s parliament. Last week, the ministry for justice and ethics said that provisions for the execution of those who have gay sex with minors or have gay sex while infected with HIV will be dropped. However, the bill’s sponsor David Bahati MP has denied that it will be weakened.

This month, a Swedish minister said that aid could be cut to Uganda if it presses ahead with the bill.

Gunilla Carlsson reportedly called the bill “appalling” and suggested that the $50 million given by Sweden to Uganda each year in aid could be jeopardised.