Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) today joins the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia –IDAHOBIT with the theme: “Tell Your Story, Inspire Others.”
Today we talk about impact of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia on LGBT individual’s mental health and the misconception that Africans do not suffer from depression, anxiety and related health issues. We are celebrating the day that World Health Organization-WHO scrapped Homosexuality off the disease list.
People who are lesbian, gay or bisexual are at far higher risk for severe mental health problems than their heterosexual peers brought about by the stress of being rejected and/or victimized because of sexual orientation. Unfortunately, discrimination also occurs within the LGBTI community especially towards Bisexual and Transsexual individuals leaving victims at a loss of where to run to for relief. There is need to advocate and inform the community about the dangers of these phobias and the negative impact they have on LGBTI people. There is also need to provide safe places that will enable the victims to heal from the abuse.
SMUG Executive Director Dr. Frank Mugisha says, “We are sometimes petrified of what could happen to us and our families. We receive constant threats, sometimes even death threats. This constant fear and the possibility of physical harm due to media outings & exposure, has created paranoia amongst LGBTI identifying Ugandans that often leads to stress.”
“The impact of this stigma and fear of further reprisal in Uganda has led to the LGBT community becoming increasingly isolated, impairing access to community resources, which only compounds the harms to physical and mental health.” Says an expert report in the SMUG vs Scott Lively case in Federal Court of Springfield, MA where SMUG sued Scott Lively for Crimes Against Humanity. According to Dr. Ilan Meyer, a distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles School of Law also an expert in “minority stress syndrome”, “It is a particularly injurious aspect of Uganda’s social and political environment that not only are LGBT individuals targeted, but also their association and ability to access support is disturbed (and was explicitly criminalized by the Anti-Homosexuality Bill).” Such policies and practices, he reports, “can have devastating effects on the community as a whole as resources that are aimed at providing support become themselves associated with danger of exposure and violence.”
“Stigma of any kind is dangerous. Transgender and transsexual individuals often feel ashamed about suffering from stress, depression, anxiety and paranoia, yet it should be the perpetrators of transphobia that must feel ashamed about their bigotry and hypocrisy.” Pepe Julian Onziema SMUG PD
For further information please contact
Grace Waitherero, Communications Officer
Sexual Minorities Uganda
Tel: +256 392174432