A book published by Unicef discussing adolescent sexual health and “promoting homosexuality” has reportedly been distributed in schools in Lao, Uganda.
“It is quite normal when you are growing up to fall in love with some one of your own sex. We are born with these feelings about who we like sexually, and who we do not like sexually. It is natural,” the book reportedly reads.
The book, called The Teenager’s Toolkit, was accused of being a tool used to promote homosexuality in Uganda by Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo.
“We met them (Unicef) and they expressed regret. They also agreed to withdraw the books and work with us in producing the right material,” Buturo said.
According to unsubstantiated media reports from Uganda, the book allegedly affirms same sex relations when people are “in a place where they do not meet people of the opposite sex, for example in school hostels.” It also reportedly approves of homosexuality when someone is, “forced to have sex with someone of the same sex because the other person is violent or because they need money or food.”
Despite the fact that the books have an official government coat of arms, Butoro insists the government did not approve it. “It is not a government publication. None of those ministries and government agencies were consulted as the book suggests. They were brought in without their consent.”
However in an official Unicef statement, the United Nations body claims that the publication of the book was “approved by the Uganda AIDS Commission, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.”
It further said that the publication was not distributed to schools and was designed as a tool to assist peer-educators to address issues that adolescents confront. It did not confirm the validity of the claims about the book’s content.
“The information contained in the toolkit is based on international best practice on adolescent development issues (including adolescent sexuality), and aims at helping young persons to make informed decisions about their lives,” said Unicef.
The Ugandan government has previously accused foreign groups of “promoting” homosexuality in the country, including Unicef, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Human Rights Defenders and East Horn of Africa Human Rights.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Widespread anti-gay sentiment and mass “outings” by the media have resulted in people being arrested, tortured, fired, and driven into hiding and exile.