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Violence Against MSM, WSW In Uganda Hindering HIV Prevention, Treatment Efforts

Armen Hareyan's picture

Human Rights Watch on Thursday in a statementsaid that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's promotion of homophobiaand violence against men who have sex with men, as well as women whohave sex with women, is hindering the country's efforts to fightHIV/AIDS, Reuters reports.HRW urged Museveni to repeal a law against sodomy and to end his "longrecord of harassing" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people(Cawthorne, Reuters, 8/24). In addition, HRW called onthe government to integrate sexual orientation and gender identityissues into Uganda's HIV prevention and treatment programs (HRWstatement, 8/23).

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Juliana Cano Nieto, a researcher in HRW's LGBTprogram, said that the government's promotion of homophobia is"undermining Uganda's efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS." HRWsaid that the government harasses gay organizations, promotesdiscrimination and raids the homes of advocates, according to Reuters (Reuters, 8/24). Scott Long, director of HRW's LGBT program, in a lettersent to Museveni on Thursday said that the government's actions againstMSM and WSW place the "health of all Ugandans" at risk "amid theHIV/AIDS pandemic." Long added that the government's "determination tosilence any discussion of sexual orientation" is "devastating" to thefight against HIV/AIDS (Letter text, 8/23).

HRW's announcement came one week after Sexual Minorities Uganda,a coalition of four LGBT organizations, launched a campaign titled "Letus Live in Peace." The group at a press conference in Kampala, Uganda,condemned discrimination and violence against MSM and WSW, as well asthe "life-threatening silence about their sexualities in HIV/AIDSprevention programs." Martin Ssempa -- pastor of Makerere CommunityChurch, which has received funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-- on Aug. 21 organized a rally to protest the press conference, duringwhich he called for continued action against MSM and WSW (HRWstatement, 8/23). Ugandan officials were not available for comment,according to Reuters (Reuters, 8/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.