Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo is back at his homophobic antics! He ordered that any Key Populations presentations be cancelled from the National HIV Prevention Symposium. Lokodo targeted Sexual Minorities Uganda Acting Programs Director Richard Lusimbo who after lots of research and preparation was excited to give a presentation about “Using Rights Evidence and Action to support HIV among Most At Risk Populations” We still have lots of work to do to ensure Lokodo understands HIV and it’s connection to most at risk populations including key populations in Uganda. He is clearly not well informed but also defying science which is unfortunate.
Richard Lusimbo says “The continued political interference in the HIV response in Uganda is greatly affecting those who need to be reached like my community the Key Populations. Studies have showed that over 950 people are infected with HIV daily in Uganda. I am greatly saddened when our voices as Key Population are silenced at a critical time when we need to work together to reach everyone.”
“The government rhetoric on Uganda’s close achievement of the 90-90-90 goals is out of touch with the reality of key populations, who are on the frontline of the HIV epidemic as those most affected by HIV/AIDS,” said Kyomya Macklean, Executive Director, Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC).
One of the symposium participants says some players in the civil society have repeatedly failed to stand up to Lokodo. “I have had numerous exchanges with them about this but they seem to be more interested in pleasing him than standing for what they know is right.” Another participant said the entire program agenda doesn’t show any serious commitment from national HIV/AIDS coordinating mechanism to prioritizing and scaling up KP interventions.He added, “We raised a lot of issues during the consultation for the HIV prevention road map. But none of our issues have been featured.”
Just last week, Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga received lots of praise from members of parliament after she harshly criticized the president of the Inter Parliamentary Union Gabriella Barroza for trying to include a motion on homosexuality on the agenda of the IPU summit. Kadaga said “This is not fair. We cannot allow it.”
As civil society organizations at the helm of fighting for the human rights of Key Populations we feel that such continuous actions are contributing negatively to disease outcomes in a country where 950 new HIV infections are happening every week and the HIV prevention response is off-track.
We call upon:
The government of Uganda: to immediately stop undermining an evidence based and human rights affirming HIV response.
Politicians: To stop using Key Populations as political capital because their actions and words have real life almost death like consequences for those affected.
Civil Society: To continue fighting for the human rights of KP despite the constant intimidation, we will overcome.
Health service providers: To continue offering services to KP without discrimination.
Key Population: Do not be afraid, keep on seeking for health services.
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