Archive for the 'PEPFAR' Category

Obama’s Evangelical Gravy Train

HIV Billboard

Photo: Andy Kopsa

Repost from The Nation by Andy Kopsa

Despite the president’s promise to cut funding to discredited HIV and pregnancy prevention programs, taxpayer dollars are still bankrolling anti-gay, anti-choice conservative religious groups.

On March 24, just a month after Ugandan President Museveni signed a bill making homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison, Obama administration officials announced that they were increasing military aid to Uganda in its effort to quell rebel forces. Human rights groups criticized the move, arguing that the aid offered Museveni “legitimacy” after he supported a law that has been widely condemned for violating human rights. The same day, a State Department spokesperson quietly announced that the administration would also “demonstrate our support for the LGBT community in Uganda” by shifting $6.4 million in funding away from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, whose actions, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, “don’t reflect our values.” That may be the understatement of the year.

According to Ugandan AIDS activists, administration officials had been told a year and a half earlier that the Inter-Religious Council and other State Department grantees were actively promoting the antigay bill. In September 2012, several LGBT and AIDS advocates in Uganda were invited to a call with representatives from USAID, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator and other US officials to discuss HIV service delivery to vulnerable communities. According to minutes taken by one of the participants and conversations with others on the call, the US officials were warned that several grantees and subcontractors through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, commonly referred to as PEPFAR, were visibly supporting the bill, undermining service delivery to men who have sex with men, or otherwise fomenting anti-gay activities. US officials asked the Ugandan activists to provide information on these actions by the US government’s so-called “implementing partners,” and told them that such evidence might lead to an investigation by US officials. Continue Reading

 

What We Need From the Next Head of PEPFAR

President’s Emergency Plan on AIDS ReliefDr. Eric Goosby stepped down from his role as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator this month. As the White House and the State Department consider Dr. Goosby’s replacement, the Council believes there are some qualities that are essential in his successor.

The Council and its member organizations strongly support the President’s Emergency Plan on AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – not only for health policy reasons, but for the broader reflection of fundamental U.S. values that PEPFAR offers. In that respect, we believe it crucial that PEPFAR programs be fully inclusive of most-at-risk populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM). We are grateful that  the Obama Administration has embraced that principle by expanding PEPFAR programming to include MSM – a legacy that, in turn, is elevating the importance of enabling legal environments for MSM prevention and treatment programs.

The nominee for Dr. Goosby’s replacement obviously must reflect experience in, and knowledge of, HIV/AIDS policy. Given the cross-agency nature of our tools to fight HIV/AIDS, however, we believe it critically important that he or she also demonstrate proven abilities to lead a complex and multi-tiered interagency health policy team.

Moreover, the new Coordinator will carry important leadership responsibilities in ensuring the consistency and integrity of PEPFAR programs. This must include clear commitment to meeting the needs of most-at-risk populations, including LGBT individuals, in each country served by PEPFAR. It equally must include persistence in seeking host country understanding of, and shared commitment to, this goal.

The Council remains concerned at indications that some PEPFAR implementers may have inappropriately blurred the distinction between their personal views on homosexuality and their responsibility, as an implementing organization of U.S. policy, not to undercut broad U.S. government policy goals that support both sound HIV/AIDS prevention and LGBT rights. We wish to see a Coordinator who will prioritize the integrity and effectiveness of our programs in this respect, even while respecting First Amendment rights. We, in turn, will join in holding the new Coordinator publicly accountable for effective oversight in investigating and responding to any alleged abuse.

Finally, the person selected as Coordinator has an essential role in communicating to foreign leaders, and indeed to American and foreign publics, the critical importance of PEPFAR’s life-saving programs, and the need for those programs to embrace all populations.

The new Global AIDS Coordinator can anchor a strong legacy not only of humanitarian attention to a critical health challenge, but also to insistence that our global health policies be fully inclusive, in reflection of American values. The Council for Global Equality is hopeful that there will be a speedy announcement of Dr. Goosby’s replacement, and that that announcement will reflect these inclusive values that are critical to the direction in which our PEPFAR programs must go.

Clear-eyed Support for LGBT Rights an Important Component of U.S. Human Rights Policy

Secretary John Kerry GLIFAA Pride June 2013

Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, speaking at the GLIFAA Pride Event June 2013

At last month’s Pride celebration at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry made clear that he shares his predecessor’s clear-eyed support for LGBT rights as an important component of U.S. human rights policy (read a transcript or watch a video of Kerry’s speech).  Referring to “a moral obligation to stand in pride with LGBT individuals and advocates,” Kerry called for “using our tools of development and diplomacy” to achieve LGBT rights abroad.  He also underscored that “greater inclusion and protection of human rights, including those for LGBT people and for their communities, leads to greater stability, greater prosperity, and greater protection for the rights of human beings.

Coming together as a strong and unified coalition of 22 leading advocacy organizations, the Council has written to Secretary Kerry, commending his remarks as well as his strong Senate record on LGBT equality.  We also stressed that his personal leadership will be critical to anchoring American support for globally fair LGBT human rights policies in three key policy areas.

  • First, in global health policy, the Council is deeply concerned that some overseas PEPFAR implementers inappropriately may have allowed their personal views on homosexuality to undercut the broader, holistic public health policy goals that their program implementation is intended to support.  Secretary Kerry can play a pivotal role in strengthening our HIV/AIDS impact by directing the Global AIDS Coordinator and other international health policy actors to ensure that contractors – like counterpart government employees – are required to distinguish clearly between their private views, when expressed, and fidelity to the public policy goals they are charged to advance.
  • Second, this year’s State Department Human Rights Report to Congress underscores that hate crimes directed at LGBT people – often with the complicity of host government authorities – are a significant challenge to human rights in every corner of the world.  Under Secretary Kerry’s leadership, the State Department can partner with the FBI and the Department of Justice to shape international law enforcement training programs that drive home the responsibility of law enforcement personnel to protect LGBT people from violence and hate crimes and to collect data on hate violence to help target government reponses.  The Secretary equally can leave an important legacy by making this protection agenda a prominent part of his personal engagement with world leaders.
  • Third, our attention to LGBT human and civil rights needs abroad requires hand-in-glove cooperation between State, on the one hand, and all foreign affairs agencies charged with advancing our development policy goals.  Secretary Kerry can engage directly with his counterparts in relevant agencies to ensure that our policy and program goals are more tightly meshed.  These programs increasingly should be brought into alignment with World Bank and other international financial institution resources, for maximum impact.

A bipartisan Congressional letter addressing concerns raised in the 2012 Human Rights Reports was also sent to Secretary Kerry in June. In the letter, a group of 93 Members of Congress asked that the U.S. Department of State brief Congressional staff on programs to address inappropriate actions by government officials vis-à-vis LGBT citizens. The letter also called for dialogue at the highest levels with governments that are complicit in LGBT-related human rights abuse. You can read the full letter here

The Administration can make powerful progress toward an LGBT-fair world in its second term.  We look to Secretary Kerry, as America’s senior diplomat and senior agency leader, to exert the leadership needed to empower that progress.

Related Content:

Presidential Proclamation — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2013

Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

Remarks by President Obama and President Sall of the Republic of Senegal at Joint Press Conference

U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) releases MSM technical guidance

PEPFAR, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief May 19, Washington – Today the office of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) released a technical guidance note to assist PEPFAR administrators in developing health interventions that respond to the unique needs of men who have sex with men (MSM).  The guide finds that MSM are on average 19 times more likely to have HIV than the general population in low and middle-income countries, and that dedicated MSM programming is essential to reach this severely at-risk population. Download the guidance here.

The Council is pleased that the guidance reviews best practices in identifying and serving MSM communities.  The guidance also calls for PEPFAR support to develop legal environments that allow MSM to access HIV prevention, care and treatment in an affirming and nondiscriminatory manner that respects their human rights.  To accomplish this, the guidance explains that PEPFAR resources may be used “to establish laws, regulations and policies that support HIV prevention efforts for MSM.”  In simple terms, the guidance recognizes that laws criminalizing homosexual relations and relationships undermine our country’s large international investments, and that PEPFAR resources should also be used to support legal reform. It calls on PEPFAR implementers to offer nondiscriminatory programs and for government leaders to make legislative changes, recognizing that “country leadership . . . is needed to develop and implement, at all levels, any necessary supportive legislation, policies, and regulations.” Continue reading ‘U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) releases MSM technical guidance’

The Council supports the global community on MSM field guidance

Amb. Eric Goosby

On February 1, 2011, the global community urged the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Goosby, to issue a PEPFAR Field Guidance on Men who have Sex with Men (MSM).  The Council for Global Equality is one of the many signatories urging the release, and the broad international response is indicative of the wide support that exists for this effort.

As noted in the letter, by releasing the MSM guidance the United States will demonstrate “that the U.S. government prioritizes an evidence-based response that aligns with the global HIV epidemic, one that seeks to stem the tide of new infections among most-at-risk populations.”

Read the full letter here.


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