Anti-gay law doesn’t warrant pulling aid

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Uganda is poised to pass a new anti-gay law by the end of the year as a “Christmas gift,” said speaker of the Ugandan parliament Rebecca Kadaga, according to BBC. Such laws are already on the books in Uganda and many African countries, making it illegal to engage in “homosexual activity.”

The new bill originally proposed that the death penalty be implemented as punishment for acts defined as “aggravated” homosexuality, where one of those involved is HIV-positive, a minor, disabled, or a repeat offender.

Certain circumstances still merit life in prison, however, and even the promotion of gay rights will be prohibited under this bill. Some international groups have said they will stop sending donations until Ugandan officials acknowledge such rights.

It almost goes without saying that the vast majority of us living in the U.S., even those that might oppose same-sex marriage, are against such horrendous treatment. Yet is it justification for suspending aid?

According to The New York Times, the U.S. still sends North Korea vast amounts of food just to keep the starving and impoverished population alive, despite the fact that the Kim family has been turning North Korean citizens against the West for over 50 years. Our government continues to condemn said actions and seeks an open dialogue, while aware that its words fall on deaf ears.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. When we stop sending aid, not only are we hurting those that put this law into place, but we’re also hurting even further those affected by it.

We should instead be offering assistance to gay people in Uganda while simultaneously attempting to educate those who support such medieval and draconian laws. Help should not be given with strings attached. Even if we were somehow indirectly financing politicians and groups opposed to gay rights, this would not obligate us to cut off assistance across the board.

It is difficult for me to believe that, in this day and age, there are so many people still against equal rights for all, especially people who were once oppressed themselves. Then again, it is just as difficult to accept that there are millions worldwide stuck in poverty, sickness, and hunger when there are others who have their needs met in excess.

To quote Thomas Paine, “The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” If more people could be convinced of this, the problems in Uganda might largely be abated. Convincing people is the real challenge.