U.S. Ambassador: HIV/AIDS Funding to Nigeria Won’t Be Withdrawn in Face of Anti-Gay Law

Financial aid on HIV/AIDS to Nigeria will not change because of the new oppressive anti-gay law recently signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, according to U.S. Ambassador James Entwistle, the Leadership reports:

EntwistleFielding questions from newsmen on whether the US would withdraw its financial aid on HIV/AIDS, the US ambassador said “absolutely not. But we have to look at it very carefully and make sure that everything we do is in compliance with the new law.”

He continued “As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And again, I am not a lawyer; I read the Bill and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we look at the bill.”

Speaking further on the law, he said “the issue of same sex marriage is very controversial all over the world, including my country where 17 states out of 50 have considered it. Some are saying it is not legal. From the issue that we see, and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria as I read the bill because I am not a lawyer, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions on the Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Expression and in my opinion especially in advanced democracies, once government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that such is a very worrisome precedent.”

According to reports, dozens of suspected gay people have been arrested across Nigeria since the law was signed. Meanwhile, no updates from the U.S. State Department on this since John Kerry's statement of 'concern' shortly after the signing took place.

Olumide Femi Makanjuola, Executive Director at The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER), discussed the Nigerian law in a piece on CNN, specifically mentioning how HIV/AIDS organizations will suffer:

The law also acts against the principle of public health. With rates of HIV infection and AIDS running at 3.7% for the general population, and 17.2% among gay men, criminalizing organizations providing intervention for this population puts all Nigerians in jeopardy.