The head of Uganda’s AIDS commission has claimed that gay people are driving up the number of infections in the country, but said they would not be targeted with prevention work.

Kihumuro Apuuli claimed a lack of money prevents him from giving any attention or treatment to gay people.

Instead soldiers, prostitutes and the transient workforce will be targeted. More than a million of Uganda’s 27 million people are already HIV+.

“Gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda, but because of meagre resources we cannot direct our programmes at them at this time,” Mr Apuuli, chairman of the Uganda AIDS Commission, said today.

Government officials have regularly threatened and harassed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans.

In 2005 Uganda became the first country in the world to introduce laws banning same-sex marriage.

Section 140 of Uganda’s penal code carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for homosexual conduct, while Section 141 punishes ‘attempts’ at carnal knowledge with a maximum of seven years of imprisonment.

Section 143 punishes acts of “gross indecency” with up to five years in prison, while a sodomy conviction carries a penalty of 14 years to life imprisonment.

Last year James Nsaba Buturo, the country’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, said the government is committed to stopping LGBT people “trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society.”

The leading Muslim cleric in Uganda, Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje, has come up with a novel solution to deal with gay and lesbians speaking up in the country.

He told journalists he had recommended to the country’s President at a meeting that all gay people should be sent into exile on an island in Lake Victoria.

“If they die there then we shall have no more homosexuals in the country,” he added.

There has been rising tension in the country over gay and lesbian rights. Trans people are also targeted by police and regularly subject to abuse and harassment.

In August 2007 activists in spoke out about the prejudice LGBT people face in the country.

30 people gave a press conference drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day.

They called themselves the “homosexual children of God” and demanded that attacks on LGBT people stop.

Three months ago the former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu joined 120 Christian and Jewish leaders in a call to the government of Uganda to stop homophobia in the country.

In a letter to President Yoweri Museveni they demanded an end to “verbal assaults and legal attacks of your government on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) people.”