Come Out Post- Test Club (COPTEC) with support from Center for Diseases Control (CDC) through the Rakai health science program (RHSP) conducted a sensitization meeting with law enforcement officers and local government bodies in Lyantonde district in a bid to mitigate conflicts between key populations and the law in regards to HIV service delivery within the Greater Masaka region. The meeting took place on Tuesday 8th September 2020,
According to Ssewanyana Roderick, the Project Coordinator at COPTEC, this initiative was designed under the Key Populations Investiment Fund to raise awareness and understanding of key stakeholders within law enforcement and local government bodies on security risks and impacts of how the law affects the implementation of HIV services to the entire key populations spectrum.
The Executive Director of COPTEC, Joseph Kawesi said that through prior trainings held at Masaka police headquarters, Mbirizi police station and Lyantonde police department, COPTEC has managed to make headway on issues that key populations face when it comes to delivery of HTC services. These dialogues have also fostered the creation of partnerships with police officers which Joseph believes will be helpful in easing access to and for their members that are or will be challenged by the impunitive laws that target them.
Despite these successes, Joseph noted to Kuchu Times that COPTEC has encountered quite a number of difficulties that should be addressed. "The project is almost coming to an end yet there is urgency to reach out to other police stations within other 12 districts in greater Masaka region. If the project ends, there won’t be any continuity of the sensitization," Joseph said.
Joseph also highlighted that in addition to being confronted by some homophobic participants during meetings, the limitation of funds allocated to the organization has deterred the desired progress of their efforts on a large scale. Plus, mobilization of police and local government officers within the rural setting has been a long stretch to get them on board especially when it comes to matters concerning LGBTI+ persons.
In reactions, the participants advised that COPTEC should include health workshops among their activities and not only focus on the law. This will enable the police and other law enforcers to help KPs that need this attention in case they are arrested or in detention. They further encouraged COPTEC to continuously engage all local government leaders with this knowledge so that they learn how best to support the marginalized communities.