Uganda’s Anti-Gay law could halt HIV/ AIDS programs among sexual minorities | A Call to Action by Spectrum Uganda Initiatives
By Melanie Nathan, January 05, 2013.
During 2013 Spectrum Uganda Initiatives Inc. provided health care and related services to Uganda’s LGBTI and HIV/AIDS community. The group reached close to 500 men who have sex with other men (MSM) with HIV/AIDS/STD prevention, treatment, care and support services in Central, Eastern, Western and Northern areas of Kampala , Wakiso, Mpigi , Entebbe , Mukono, Busia , Bududa , Arua and Hoima districts. (See the Full report of their work below.)
Unfortunately with the passage of the Anti- Homosexuality Bill (AHB) the future is uncertain and much of the good work is at great risk:
On 20th December 2013 the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which entrenches hatred and discrimination against those who are, or who are believed to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI). The Ugandan Penal Code already prohibits ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’. This Bill goes much further by criminalizing the so called “promotion” of homosexuality, compelling HIV testing in some circumstances, and further by including a range of different people who could be targeted for arrest for “aggravated homosexuality” – an offence that would carry a punishment of life imprisonment.
The future of the HIV-AIDS struggle:
The severe impact of this bill has started eroding way the efforts to combat HIV-AIDS and STDS among sexual minorities in Uganda. Health service providers are steadily pulling out in this struggle for fear of their lives and jobs. The Bill, though yet to see finality into law, is already driving people underground, and will continue to disrupt the collection and dissemination of accurate and imperative information.
Threats, hateful speeches and discrimination from religious leaders, politicians and even biased media are increasing and resulting into insecurity to peer educators, staff and LGBTI community, which is hampering health service delivery. When this law is enacted, it is anticipated, according to Spectrum, that it will get even worse.
As an organization Spectrum notes that it will continue and commit to deliver health services to members despite this terrible and trying period.
This is Spectrum Uganda’s Call to action:
- Diplomatic engagement with President Museveni from world leaders and donor partners to Uganda, specifically speaking to these issues above;
- Partners to support us in our work, to strengthen our safety, emergency preparedness, and well being of the community;
- Spectrum staff and our peer educators to courageously continue direct health service delivery in order to combat the epidemic in the community we serve.
REPORT OF SPECTRUM UGANDA’S WORK 2013:
During 2013 Spectrum Uganda Initiatives Inc. reached close to 500 Men who have sex with other men (MSM) with HIV/AIDS/STD prevention, treatment, care and support services in Central, Eastern , Western and Northern areas of Kampala , Wakiso , Mpigi , Entebbe, Mukono, Busia , Bududa , Arua and Hoima districts.
A significant number of up country community members also benefited from Spectrum Uganda’s projects, through social networks, an avenue that peer educators made good use of, and furthermore provided orientation to 89 health care providers in Kampala city, Wakiso and Mukono districts, increasing referral linkages to health services.
Additionally, 10 peer educators were trained in the communities to serve as grass root focal persons to bridge the gap between the community and the health care providers by creating effective linkages., who then went into mobilizing the community to facilitate health sensitization workshops.
Health care providers were successfully enlisted resulting in insightful discussions on the unique needs of the community. The group further interfaced with policy makers and advocated for the noble cause of a non-discriminatory health, legal and political environment, while identifying friendly health service provider institutions and individuals, and securely obtaining their contacts so that referral linkages for health services can be made.
Spectrum Uganda established bi –weekly safe space gatherings for youth as a platform for HIV prevention through sex educational talks, experience sharing and supply of health consumable.
They also conducted 11 bi–weekly safe gatherings which attracted 120 youth members of the community. Condoms and lubricants were distributed at the facilities, during outreach and by the peer educators.
Peer educators distributed 7,000 tubes of lubricants, 218,338 condoms and 200 pieces of mosquito nets and Spectrum Uganda was able to provide other organizations, especially from the upcountry cells, with products.
The group was able to conduct 12 home visits to people living with HIV in two areas; Kampala and Entebbe , and to provide some home based care services and counseling.
450 GMT persons were reached with HIV prevention information (IEC materials) in form of brochures, printed condom covers and directories of friendly health care service providers and peer educators. 105 GMT/MSM persons accessed HCT services through friendly service providers.
In the struggle to combat HIV/AIDS among sexual minorities in Uganda, Spectrum Uganda established Partnerships with mainstream health service providers (names withheld).
This is Spectrum Uganda’s Call to action:
Diplomatic engagement with President Museveni from world leaders and donor partners to Uganda, specifically speaking to these issues above;
Partners to support us in our work, to strengthen our safety, emergency preparedness, and well being of the community;
Spectrum staff and our peer educators to courageously continue direct health service delivery in order to combat the epidemic in the community we serve.
Publishers note: U.S.A:
The Bill will be sent to President Musevni to sign his assent. If he refuses assent he can send it back to the Ugandan Parliament with suggestions or it will go back to parliament in any event, where it can pass on a two third majority vote, without the President’s signature.
As it is a private member Bill there is no power of veto for President Museveni.
U.S.A./ Canada:- Have you thought of contacting your local Representative here in the U.S.A and the U.S. State Department to ask what they are doing diplomatically to thwart the AHB?
South Africa: Contact the ANC and Office of President Zuma and ask what diplomatically they are doing about the AHB? This HIV/AIDS argument is a very powerful one and should be brought to the fore as a matter of urgency.
South America/ Iceland/ Others:- Do your bit please!
EUROPE/ UK:- Do the same as the above with regard to your governments. Lets see what our friend the Pope will do about this- turn a blind eye – again?
ISRAEL:- You have business interests in Uganda. They need to hear from you too! What outreach is going on there – please report back to my e-mail;
Middle Eastern Countries:- I guess you have enough of your own shit going on right? That said Dubai, Saudi Arabia – …oh just a thought…. sorry I guess your stance exempts you from caring about HIV AIDS health in Africa…!
ASIA: Dead loss – wake up!
RUSSIA – Your Putin supporting losers probably don’t give a damn!