Ugandan Minister of Ethics Bans HIV/AIDS Conference

It is hard to believe that in 2018, this is still happening: Ugandan Ethics and Integrity Minister, Simon Lokodo, has blocked an HIV/Aids conference, saying it was organized to promote “homosexuality and other dirty things.”

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In an interview with the Daily Monitor on Wednesday, Fr Lokodo said the conference organized by the Uganda Aids Commission in partnership with the Most-At-Risk Population Network Limited (MNL), was to take between May 9 and 10 at undisclosed venue in Kampala.

He said the questionable gathering dubbed: “First Annual Conference on Key and Priority Populations,” was being disguised as an HIV prevention event yet it’s meant to promote uncultured behaviors like homosexuality.

“My duty is to stop anything that will position the moral fabric of Ugandans. I realized that there was something dirty when I saw leaders of the conference like Nicholas Opiyo of an organization known as chapter 4 and Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG),” Mr Lokodo said, adding that the two are people of high declared position in support of homosexuality.

According to the concept note of the conference seen by this reporter, the target audience of the conference included; sex workers, transgender people, fishing folks, drug addicts, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

Fr Lokodo said that the director general of the Uganda Aids Commission, Dr Nelson Musoba had also distanced himself from the conference.

“It is not UAC which was organizing the conference. The organizers were hiding behind the good image of the commission because Dr Nelson was also in shock when I contacted him,” he added.

However, when contacted, Dr Musoba, gave contradicting remarks, saying that the Aids Commission had just postponed the conference to widen its scope.

“I am the one who has written postponing the conference because we want to increase its scope and make it better. It is only focusing on prevention but we want to include bio-medical interventions like elimination-of-mother to child transmission (emtct),” Dr Musoba said.

Dr Musoba said that Fr Lokodo had contacted him raising a complaint about the Most-at-Risk populations, who are the major drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“The minister had information on a list of organizations not among those we were are working with. I will meet him again to help him understand the purpose of the workshop,” he said.

Melanie Nathan, African Human Rights Coalition:

This is not the first time Lokodo has gone after LGBTQI people, accusing educational and emotionally supportive events as being “promotional of homosexuality.” The very concept, of promoting homosexuality is flawed. and mythological.    Does that mean every time you teach a young many who is straight to put on a condom you are promoting adultery? The latter all seen to be immoral? The list of comparatives could go on. Bottom line you cannot promote a human sexuality that is innate, yet you can help people cope with issues they may have arising out of their sexuality.

For many years HIV/AIDS organizations and advocates have had discussions and held conferences at various centers in Africa about the extreme risk to ALL people on the continent, if anyone of the key populations would be shut out or shut down from imperative work involving HIV/AIDS. This would always include LGBTQI people. Most professionals in the fields as well as in African countries know and understand that key populations exist and are not going away and the only solution is full inclusion and decriminalization.

Instead officials, using LGBTI shaming as political tools are risking entire populations in their countries and risking success in the quest for a ZERO HIV world.  Political operatives such as Lokodo, who run their jobs for the people based on myth, lies, and harmful religious fundamentalism, and worse yet, their own ill-informed and emotionally invoked fears, are ultimately hurting all inhabitants of their countries.  History will lay it at their feet, when we fail to reach the target of ZERO AIDS. The latter is possible, if we can just replace people like Lokodo with leaders who are not cowards.

My hope for Fr Lokodo is that he realize that his extreme fear evidenced by his reactions is coming across as if he is a closeted and in fear.  He should just stand back and allow these events to continue.

13537741_10209328713390171_8282725518331626905_nMelanie Nathan
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