Monday, January 12, 2009

The discussion needs to continue

Mad Priest pointed to an article by Kelly Jean Cogswell at Gay City wherein Rick Warren's efforts in Africa around HIV/AIDS is discussed, along the lines of what has already been made public by Max Blumenthal (cf. my earlier post).
In case you actually care, his campaign for AIDS prevention, in a region decimated by the disease, sneers at condoms, needle exchange, and sex education. He claims all those efforts merely slow the spread of AIDS, while his plan can stop it flat. The secret - abstinence before marriage, religious conversion, and, not included on his website, that perennial favorite, queer-baiting.

One of his closest allies in Uganda in his so-called fight against AIDS is Martin Ssempa, an evangelical preacher who blames queers for the disease, makes a show of burning condoms, and this spring organized a rally with the theme "A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality," where he spent most of his time railing against queers.

As far as treatment goes, Ssempsa offers faith healing in his Pentecostal services if only victims believe enough and make a nice donation. In general, the bulk of his anti-AIDS activism seems to be legal battles to ensure that homosexuality remains illegal and the media continues to portray queers as sexual predators.

He's getting it done. Homosexuality is still illegal, and queers face increasing harassment and violence from everyone from the government to their next-door neighbors. Newspapers sometimes print lists of people suspected of being lesbian or gay, opening them up to job loss and physical violence. Several activists are arrested every year.

You may read it all here. Warren is chummy with Archbishops Orombi and Akinola and is now offering welcome to the queer-terrified neo-Donatists who have "gone out from among us."

As far as the inauguration goes, the pain and anger are real but I do not expect anything to change and I do not favor boycotting a day of such hope for change, even if it has this nasty glitch in it.

What I do hope for is an unmasking of Rick Warren.

I want him unmasked for the manipulative, oppressive person that he is. I want the public at large to know that his work in Africa centers on an approach that (1) actually increases AIDS risk and incidence, and thus increases the death rate, (2) spreads hate, and (3) fosters oppressive laws. Folks should be applauding this?

As far as I am concerned the "he's actually doing good work in Africa" routine simply does not hold water. He is putting his money where his mouth is, and that is the problem.

Here is what happens:
In 1986, Uganda's President " launched an ambitious HIV prevention campaign, which included massive condom distribution, explicit information about transmission, and messages about delaying sex and reducing numbers of partners. HIV rates dropped from 15 percent in the early 1990s to 5 percent in 2001."

Then Christian activists got involved and Uganda's success took a sharp turnaround. New HIV infections nearly doubled between 2003 and 2005.
"Uganda's new morality-based approach has unleashed a wave of stigma against condom use, because now, if you ask for a condom, it must mean you have failed to abstain or be faithful."

It didn't stop people from having sex. It just stopped them from using condoms.
[Becky at Preemptive Karma]
And the US government has a huge hand in this:
The Lancet, a British medical journal, recently attributed Uganda's surge in new infections to the condom shortage and the Musevenis' campaign to remove the "C" [condoms] from ABC. "There is no question in my mind," said Stephen Lewis, the U.N.'s Africa envoy, 10 months into the shortage, "that the condom crisis in Uganda is being driven and exacerbated by the extreme policies that the administration in the United States is now pursuing in the emphasis on abstinence."
[Esther Kaplan, contributing editor at POZ, the national AIDS magazine, via Peace Earth & Justice News]

--the BB


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Thankyou for reporting on this. The situation in Uganda is very serious indeed.

Moreover, the dictatorship is supported by the US.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Let's hope and pray that in 6 1/2 days, the huge hand from the US puts its money toward AIDS-prevention policies that actually work.