April 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Uganda police: HIV/AIDS group ran ‘homosexual recruitment project’

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni in February signed into law a bill that imposes harsh sentences on LGBT Ugandans. (Photo by the U.K. Department for International Development; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

The Washington Blade has obtained a leaked Ugandan police report that says a U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS service organization recruited teenage boys and young men “into homosexual practices.”

The report states it received information on March 15 that there was “ongoing recruitment of youths aged between 15-25 years and training them into homosexual practices” by the management of the Makerere University Walter Reed Project in Kampala, the country’s capital.

Det. Sgt. Mfitundinda Edward of the Uganda Police Force wrote in his report the “conditions of recruitment” were a “male has to produce or come with a fellow man as a partner for homosexual to be recruited and trained.”

Mfitundinda wrote “recruited partners” were shown pornography as “a teaching package.” They were also given booklets that contained information on sexual health care for men who have sex with men, male condoms and lubrication for “anal sexual play.”

The report further noted several rooms at the “recruiting centers” for “treating sick ones, practicing homosexual, masturbation and collection of sperms in small bottles.” Mfitundinda wrote the sperm samples were reportedly sent to a Kampala hospital.

“U.S. government is sponsoring the research on HIV, Makerere University Walker Reed Project, which is also recruiting homosexuals,” reads the report. “Homosexual recruitment project is a new project within the Walter Reed Project and has taken so far a period of approximately one year and a half.”

Mfitundinda wrote the report on April 8, five days after police raided the organization’s Kampala offices and took one staffer into custody.

The Makerere University Walter Reed Project has conducted HIV research in the East African country since 1998. The organization seven years later began offering prevention, care and treatment programs with funds it received from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

“We are deeply concerned that a U.S.-funded health clinic and medical research facility, the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP), was raided by Ugandan authorities on April 3, leading to the arrest of one of the facility’s employees, allegedly for conducting ‘unethical research’ and ‘recruiting homosexuals,’” said Marie Harf, a spokesperson for the State Department, after the raid.

Ofwono Opondo, a spokesperson for the Ugandan government, said a day after the raid that Makerere University Walter Reed Project staffers were “training youths in homosexuality.”

The incident took place roughly six weeks after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law that imposes a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

The U.S. as a result of Museveni signing the measure suspended a study to identify groups at risk for HIV/AIDS the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had planned to conduct with a Ugandan university. A CDC agreement that funded the salaries of 87 employees of the Ugandan Ministry of Health who support the country’s response to the epidemic expired at the end of February.

The World Bank postponed a $90 million loan to the Ugandan government that had been earmarked to bolster its health care system after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. BuzzFeed reported on Tuesday a group of consultants the bank hired to study the issue are slated to recommend that Kampala should receive the funds.

Uganda receives nearly $300 million each year through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to fight the epidemic. The East African country in 2013 received more than $485 million in aid from the U.S.

A spokesperson for the Makerere University Walter Reed Project told the Washington Blade after the April 3 raid the organization’s programs were “temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of staff and the integrity of the program.” Dickson Mujuni of the RPL AIDS Foundation said during an interview from Kampala after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that his group also had to close.

“The community is very scared, very worried,” Dickson told the Blade. “They’re underground.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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