In a rare change of heart, Ugandan local government and security officials have issued an official travel permit to an LGBT organisation to distribute antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) during the countrywide COVID-19 lockdown.
By Kikonyogo Kivumbi
Joseph Kawesi, the executive director of the Come Out Post Test Club said Saturday in Kampala that local government officials and representatives of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had issued him a permit to travel and distribute ARV medications.
“When I am stopped at roadblocks, I show them the permit and they (police) let me through,” Kawesi said.
He currently is distributing medicines by bicycle, motorcycle and car.
The names of the officials who gave him their approval are being withheld here so they will not be publicly smeared as sympathetic to homosexuals. Many Uganda government officials believe that homosexuals are evil and deserve to die of HIV/AIDS, despite UNAIDS’s caution that allowing HIV to spread in LGBT people can create a bridge in new infections in heterosexuals.
About Coptec Uganda
Come Out Post Test Club — Uganda (COPTEC) is a trans women/sex worker-led organization. It was founded in 2013 by a group of trans women sex workers living with HIV/AIDS in response to the intense stigma, discrimination and high death rate of trans women living with HIV/AIDS, who had difficulties getting social services such as health care and education.
COPTEC-Uganda works on behalf of transgender-diverse communities for recognition of their human rights, seeking an end to discrimination, stigma and exclusion and seeking to empower them to live meaningful lives.
The group’s goal is a community that both supports and cares for transgender women sex workers who are living with HIV and is well enough informed to protect itself from HIV/AIDS-related illness by:
- Creating a safe space for organizing and sharing information for transgender/transsexual sex workers who are HIV positive in Uganda.
- Promoting behavior change among its members, their partners and health care providers through information gathering and sharing;
- Educating members about positive life choices that promote long healthy lives.
- Promoting nutritional health practices.
- Offering peer counseling and advice to members struggling with different challenges related to HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health and security.
- Networking with other organizations working on similar issues.
Many organisations, including the LGBT-friendly legal aid group Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and the Right Here Right Now Platform, a coalition of 14 local civil society organisations, have reached out to security agencies and other officials to urge them to relax security restrictions, including LGBTI, without discrimination.