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Kuchu Times Media Group statement on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia 2016

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The International Day against Homophobia, Trans phobia   and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is celebrated on May 17th and aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBTI rights work worldwide. This commemorates the World Health Organization’s decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1990.

This year’s theme is “mental health and wellbeing”. Sexual and gender diversities are still characterized by many states and by a majority of people worldwide as mental health problems and as a result many LGBTI people have faced public persecution, discrimination and social stigma. Even in more liberal spaces, this hypothesis, notwithstanding unconscious, still lies at the source of many obstacles to full equality of gender and sexual minorities in Uganda and other parts of the word.

In Uganda and some parts of the world, being gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex and bisexual is still considered a mental disorder and thus using the “psychiatric” argument to justify the treatment of LGBTI people with an aim of curing them of this purported disease. Some anti-gay advocates have campaigned conversion therapies to cure homosexuality.

We call upon all those involved in spreading such baseless arguments to respect people’s sexuality and gender identity differences and acknowledge the fact that people are born that way and deserve equal treatment and respect like other citizens.

A great number of LGBTI people still face a problem in accessing health services in mainstream health spaces. Apart from the few health centers which have been sensitized about various health needs for the gender and sexual minorities in Uganda, there are many reported cases of discrimination of LGBTI people by some health workers in community health facilities. This makes it hard for the marginalized groups to access these available health services which contributes to stigmatization and social exclusion of LGBTI people hence great impact on their physical or mental well-being.

“During the period the Anti-Homosexuality bill was passed by the Ugandan parliament, me and my fellow trans women went to access treatment from a certain health facility that I would not disclose for security reasons, health workers chased us away saying they cannot associate with homosexuals because the government will close their facility”-one Ugandan transgender woman talked to Kuchu Times

We therefore call upon the ministry of health to implement non-discriminative healthy policies inclusive of all categories of people in society irrespective of people’s differences in sexual orientation and gender identity.

Kuchu Times Media Group being a media house that strives to provide a platform for Ugandan LGBTI people, calls upon the mainstream media to exercise professionalism while reporting about gender and sexuality issues. Media in Ugandan has always reported about LGBTI issues with a predisposed standpoint which has caused more suffering to the community members, due to media outings, many LGBTI Ugandans have experienced unlawful  evictions, physical and verbal attacks from the public, expulsions from institutions of learning and work places, rejections from family and friends and a couple of other challenges.

The current laws in Uganda still consider same-sex relations illegal especially section 145 of the Penal Code Act. One charged under this same law may face up to life imprisonment on charges of “carnal knowledge against the order of nature. Even though the Anti-Homosexuality Act was annulled in 2014 on procedural grounds, the Ugandan parliament has worked hard to table bills that would wipe out all activities aimed at protecting LGBTI people.  The NGO Act that was passed this year, when implemented, will make it hard for LGBTI organizations to work freely.

We call upon the Ugandan parliament and the government at large to decriminalize same-sex relations and scrap off laws considering LGBTI advocacy illegal in order to create a conducive environment for the Ugandan sexual minorities.