Dispute over LGBTI clinics in Uganda

Simon Lokodo, Uganda ethics minister (Photo courtesy of Gayvasion.com)
Simon Lokodo, Uganda ethics minister: “We shall arrest these people.” (Photo courtesy of Gayvasion.com)

Are health clinics for LGBT people in Uganda a step in the right direction, or a misstep?

The U.N.’s IRIN news service reports:

Outrage, scepticism at Uganda U-turn on LGBTI clinics

KAMPALA, 9 December 2013 (IRIN) – Eighteen months after slamming activists who opened a clinic for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Kampala, Uganda’s health ministry has decided it was a good idea after all and has begun setting up similar facilities, prompting outrage from the Ministry for Ethics and Integrity and scepticism from some in civil society.

The U.S. embassy likes the idea:

“We strongly encourage them to ensure that these populations are not stigmatized and are respected under the Ugandan constitution, which guarantees equal rights for all minorities,” Daniel Travis, spokesperson for US Mission Uganda, told IRIN.

Rabidly anti-gay Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo hates the idea, of course:

“We shall not tolerate these clinics. To open these clinics is a recipe for recognizing these behaviours, which are totally unacceptable. We are not obliged to encourage these acts,” Lokodo told IRIN. …

“We shall arrest these people in these clinics and send them for treatment as culprits,” he said.

LGBTI activist Pepe Julian Onziema
LGBTI activist Pepe Julian Onziema

LGBT activists are worried:

Pepe Julian Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a local rights group, echoed these concerns: “It’s good to know that the MoH [Ministry of Health] is making this move. It shows that they’re taking service provision for all to another level. However, I’m afraid that opening specific clinics to cater for CSW [commercial sex workers] and MSM people will only contribute to further stigma and discrimination.”  …

“Everyone will know where to find a homosexual, making it easy for homosexual haters to pounce… Clinics should be generally inclusive.”

For more information, read the full IRIN article Outrage, scepticism at Uganda U-turn on LGBTI clinics.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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