Ugandan health and human rights: Q&A with experts

Back to Article
Back to Article

Ugandan health and human rights: Q&A with experts

Courtesy of Gaynewsnetwork.com

Courtesy of Gaynewsnetwork.com

Courtesy of Gaynewsnetwork.com

In view of the recent passage of the the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, The Guilfordian reached out to three experts in LGBT issues in Uganda.

Paul Semugoma is a physician from Uganda, currently practicing in South Africa. He is also an advocate for HIV prevention, LGBT health and other human rights issues.

Thomas Rogers is the program assistant and case manager at Freedom House in Detroit, Michigan. Freedom House is a temporary home for refugees from around the world seeking legal shelter from persecution in the U.S.

Rev. Cannon Albert Ogle is the president of the Saint Paul Foundation for International Reconciliation and an Episcopalian priest who has served in parishes and non-profits throughout Southern California.

 

Q: How deeply ingrained is violence against the LGBT community in Ugandan culture?

TR: Perhaps what is most alarming is that LGBT Ugandans often say they fear the public more than the government. Due to the heightened discussion of whether or not LGBT persons have human rights and to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, citizens have enforced a vigilante justice. Seldom does law enforcement step in to protect the current victims from violence and abuse.

PS: Funny enough, it was not always so. I lived for more than 10 years in the same village with a partner. People knew that we were gay, but there was little disturbance. As of now, people are being arrested for living as ‘man and wife,’ and there are reports of lynching and public shaming. So, it is worse now than it was before.

CAO: Within the context of a culture that is very violent and prejudiced, the LGBT community is victimized and is a big target for mob violence. There is this culture of spying, fear and intimidation created by the anti-gay bill.

 

Q: How are LGBT people portrayed in the media?

TR: LGBT persons are portrayed as both abnormal and criminal. They are seen as deviants who consciously choose to be LGBT and who “recruit” children into homosexuality. They are also said to sexually exploit minors and persons with a disability.

CAO: The media in Uganda is mixed; you have on one side the Red Pepper which is an incredibly anti-gay newspaper … and then the other side of the media is saying that this bill creates a second-class citizenry and is not sustainable.

Q: What are the health implications of the recent anti-gay bill?

PS: From a strict reading of the Act, all health and human rights programs are illegal because they are a way of ‘promoting homosexuality.’ Imagine handing out condoms and condom compatible lubes for gay sex.

TR: It severely threatens all progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, a country that has been praised for being among the first to recognize and actively take part to combat, treat and reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS infections . We all know that HIV/AIDS doesn’t have a gender preference; it’s a disease that is a real threat to men and women of any sexuality. To put it simply, the AHB institutionalizes hatred and discrimination against an entire group of people.

CAO: We know from research in Southern Africa that, of the aid money sent from the U.S., a very small amount goes to the LGBT community. Instead, most of the money goes to religious organizations that support the AHB — not AIDS prevention.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email