philanthropists

Uganda Wants to Murder Sexually Active HIV+ Gays. So Why Doesn’t AIDS Crusader Bill Gates Care?

Should we be concerned that Bill Gates, rich person and master philanthropist and Sundance dancer, doesn’t seem very concerned about Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with a $35 billion endowment, focuses on global literacy, entrepreneurship in the poor regions, and of course, HIV/AIDS research, treatment, and prevention. And that’s where Gates’ focus on Uganda and Africa at large remain.

And yet he tells a reporter, when asked about Uganda’s proposed legislation: “The spread of AIDS is a huge problem and obviously we’re very involved. I talk in my letter about the great success with this male circumcision effort, and preventative drug trials. There’s a tendency to think in the U.S. just because a law says something that it’s a big deal. In Africa if you want to talk about how to save lives, it’s not just laws that count. There’s a stigma no matter what that law says, for sex workers, men having sex with men, that’s always been a problem for AIDS. It relates to groups that aren’t that visible. AIDS itself is subject to incredible stigma. Open involvement is a helpful thing. I wouldn’t overly focus on that. In terms of how many people are dying in Africa, it’s not about the law on the books; it’s about getting the message out and the new tools.”

Gates is a smart man, and he’s right on one count: Whether there’s a law on the books or not, stigmatization about HIV/AIDS, and gays, will remain for generations. But what he negates — or is perhaps uniformed of — is that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill specifically punishes anyone having same-sex sex while HIV-positive. And by punishes, we mean executes. EXECUTES! For having sex while carrying a virus that the local population remains terribly ill-informed about.

From his statement, it appears Gates isn’t terrified by the prospect that legalizing state-sponsored murder of those with HIV might, uh, infringe upon his efforts to fight the disease.

(Photo: Bill and wife Melinda at the Manhica Health Research Centre in Mozambique in 2003, via Reuters)