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Opinion: Uganda Anti-Gay Bill; Shah Confirmation

Columnist Michael Gerson in a Washington Post opinion piece writes of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 being considered by the country’s parliament “that would impose new and harsher penalties on homosexuality, including life imprisonment and capital punishment. It also would force pastors and others to report homosexuals to the authorities. Ugandan Christian leaders are key supporters of the bill.” Gerson discusses how pluralism and tolerance should be at the foundation of Christian beliefs, saying they are “the proper way to treat men and women created free and autonomous in God’s image.”

The column continues: “The proposed law requiring the reporting and punishment of homosexuals is not only an improper role for government, it also directly undermines the public good. Uganda is a nation struggling with a 5.4 percent rate of AIDS infection. Laws like this one simply drive men who have sex with men underground. They don’t learn prevention. They don’t get tested for the virus. They don’t receive timely treatment. They may continue to spread the disease to others. Public health authorities lose an accurate epidemiological picture of the disease, undermining their ability to craft a response. And the social stigma against AIDS increases, making everyone less likely to be tested” (12/18).

Senate Should Confirm Shah ‘Without Delay’

In a Roll Call opinion piece, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) outlines why he believes Rajiv Shah “should be confirmed” by the Senate “without delay.”

“First, successful outcomes to our most pressing national security challenges … depend just as much on our ability to provide health services and economic opportunity to struggling people as on our combat operations or diplomatic efforts,” Frist writes. “Second, the global fights against HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases have reached a turning point,” according to Frist. He also points to the debate about reforming U.S. development strategies to produce “greater returns for recipients and taxpayers alike.”

Frist discusses recommendations for U.S. policy, the USAID administrator’s role and how the U.S. should “direct our precious development resources to more effective, low-cost health interventions such as vaccines, breast-feeding and increased access to skilled family care in rural communities. And we must invest our development dollars in programs that are showing measurable results,” according to Frist.

He concludes: “Dr. Shah has what is needed to carry on President Bush’s global health legacy and fulfill President Obama’s extraordinary development vision. The Senate should confirm him, and the Obama administration should give him the political support and resources he needs to succeed. Millions of lives will be affected by this choice” (12/17).