To commemorate eight years since David Kato Kisule was brutally murdered, Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) conducted a one-day breast and cervical cancer screening drive dubbed, “Strengthening Health Services for LBQ Women in Uganda”. The drive took place Friday 25th 2019, a day before the David Kato Memorial Day and was well attended by several LBTQ identifying women.
Arthur Mubiru, FARUG’s Administration and health desk coordinator said that the organization had decided on breast and cervical screening because they realized that these cancers are rampant within the LBTQ community yet they remain unaddressed.
Arthur, a transman said that the fact that LBTQ persons are being discriminated in general health service facilities, FARUG took it upon itself to reach out to its members and provide these services in a safe space where they would don’t feel discriminated against.
“In general health service centres, they are asked questions that traumatise them. For instance, whenever our members go to general health facilities for HIV services, they are asked to bring their partners. Whenever they show up with a partner of the same sex, it automatically becomes an issue,” Arthur further shared some of the experiences LBTQ persons go through in trying to access health services.
To end his communique, Arthur urged all health workers to remember that all LBTQ persons are human beings first and should not be denied access to health services simply based on who they love or how they identify. He explained that this was one of the major reasons FARUG was collaborating with some health service providers whom they’ve sensitized about LBQ women. FARUG further encourages its members to go to the health facilities that have undergone training on LBTQ issues to make sure they are not discriminated against and to avoid creating violent and insecure situations for themselves.
Diana Bakuraira the Office Administrator at Sexual Minorities Uganda who is also a member of FARUG said she was happy to be part of this project because as a lesbian, these are services that have rarely been supported when it comes to funding. She appreciated the support from Canada Fund For Local Initiatives (CFLI) that coordinated this project with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and supported, FARUG, a SMUG member organisation.
Ms Bakuraira shared that one of the key objectives of this project was to raise health awareness, focusing mainly on breast and cervical cancer screening for LBQ persons in Uganda. “Globally, over the years, we've seen LBTQ women being excluded in major programing when it comes to health and as SMUG, we've taken the initiative to pioneer these conversations around health services for LBTQ persons. We are working with our LBQ women's organization and founder member, FARUG to make sure that this awareness is created within the LBTQ community in Uganda.” She also noted that this was a global issue, affecting many countries worldwide not Uganda.
“As SMUG, our focus areas are around capacity building and we believe this project is not only going to create visibility or awareness for LBTQ health challenges, but also provide a lot of LBTQ health information about how to access to these health services from the different health service providers that SMUG as a network and FARUG have been in contact with. Through such efforts, we will have more advocacy and increased address of health needs especially for LBQ women. Therefore with this project, we believe that gap is going to be bridged,” Ms Bakuraira concluded
DAVID KATO MEMORIAL DAY
David Kato Kisule was an LGBT rights activist and is considered by many to be the father of Uganda's gay rights movement. He served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).
Kato was murdered on 26th January 2011 after his name and face were published in the Rolling Stone tabloid, together with 99 other supposed gay Ugandans. It is from this that the Uganda LGBTQ community holds different forms of advocacy programs on this day- in memory of David and to celebrate and honour his efforts towards the fight for the rights of LGBTQ identifying Ugandans.