NIGERIA: US Ambassador Says There Will Be No Cut To HIV/AIDS Relief Money

The US ambassador to Nigeria says the United States will not be cutting aid to that nation despite this month’s super-criminalization of homosexuality. The ambassador went on to express concern about how US funds might be dispersed without violating the new laws. Via the Nigerian newspaper Leadership:

Fielding questions from newsmen on whether the US would withdraw its financial aid on HIV/AIDS, the US ambassador said “absolutely not. But we have to look at it very carefully and make sure that everything we do is in compliance with the new law.” He continued “As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And again, I am not a lawyer; I read the Bill and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we look at the bill.”  Speaking further on the law, he said “the issue of same sex marriage is very controversial all over the world, including my country where 17 states out of 50 have considered it. Some are saying it is not legal. From the issue that we see, and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria as I read the bill because I am not a lawyer, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions on the Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Expression and in my opinion especially in advanced democracies, once government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that such is a very worrisome precedent.”

Since the passage of the most recent anti-gay bill there have been dozens of arrests and at least one lashing. According to USAID, in 2011 the United States gave $230M in aid to Nigeria with $129M of that amount targeted to HIV/AIDS relief. Figures for 2012 and 2013 don’t yet appear to be on their site.