There is a cyclical relationship between stigma and HIV; people who experience stigma and discrimination are marginalised and made more vulnerable to HIV, while those living with HIV are more vulnerable to experiencing stigma and discrimination. Roughly one in eight people living with HIV is being denied health services because of stigma and discrimination.
A Ugandan transgender woman in a town near Kampala, shortly before she fled the country. She left to escape the police harassment and violence she experienced after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In a country where the climate for LGBTI people was already hostile and discriminatory, LGBTI people have faced a notable increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion, loss of employment, evictions and homelessness, and scores have fled the country.
At least one transgender person has been killed since the bill was signed, in an apparent hate crime. Health providers have cut back on essential services for LGBTI people, who also fear harassment or arrest if they seek health care. The passing of this discriminatory law has not only opened the floodgates for a range of human rights violations against LGBTI people in Uganda, but has also ensured that victims of these violations are denied access to effective remedies.
The law permits sentences of life in prison for some sexual acts between consenting adults. Since the bill passed in DecemberHuman Rights Watch and Amnesty International are aware of at least 17 people who have been arrested based on allegations of consensual same-sex conduct with other adults or, in some cases, simply on the suspicion of appearing to be LGBTI.
In contrast, between andthe Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Foruma Ugandan group that tracks such cases and provides legal defense, reported that they were aware of 23 arrests on the basis of same-sex conduct, none of which resulted in prosecutions.
The increase in arrests affects not only those detained, but the broader LGBTI population, since many live in fear of arrest and avoid any dealings with the authorities. LGBTI people who are victims of violence or discrimination say they fear reporting such cases to the police, concerned that they themselves could be arrested.
The most evident impact of the law has been significant uprooting of LGBTI people, many of whom have fled the country, and others who are homeless or in hiding within Uganda.
Giving her one Anti homosexuality to vacate the property, it reads: You have been nice to me and paying very well. But due to the existing situation in the country plus your behavior with your friends, forgive me to suspect you of being indecent, I cannot allow you to rent my house, I cannot fight the government.
Two community-based organizations that provided HIV testing, condoms, and lubricant to men who have sex with men MSM closed their doors after the bill became law. They have reinitiated some services, but no longer receive drop-in clients.
Shortly after the Act was signed, the health minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, publicly pledged that health services would be provided to LGBTI people in a non-discriminatory way.
Serious concerns for how this could work in practice remain, given that the Ministry has no control over police actions, said Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Interviews with LGBTI people indicate the risk of health care workers violating patient confidentiality. You people are not even supposed to be in our community. I can even call the police and report you Other victims were released with the assistance of lawyers.
Three transgender people said that police sexually assaulted them in custody, touching their breasts and genitals.
Kayihura agreed to look into the matter and circulate guidance to his staff. Despite inquiries, as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, such guidance has not been communicated to police.
Three friends of the victim interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were afraid to report the killing to police, out of fear that as transgender women, they could be arrested. In March, three LGBTI people were lured to a house by men they met on social media, who abused them while subjecting them to homophobic insults.
Two of the victims fled and filed complaints with the police, but the police responded with homophobic comments and the victims were afraid to pursue the complaints further. Six people told Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International they had been fired from their jobs since the bill was passed, on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Others who ran small businesses or sold goods in the informal sector said that clients and other business people told them they would not be doing business with them anymore out of fear of being associated with them.
For recommendations to the Ugandan government and Parliament and personal accounts of human rights violations against LGBTI Ugandans, please see below. Recommendations to the Ugandan Government and Parliament Parliament should repeal the Anti-Homosexuality Act ; President Museveni should publicly denounce violence and discrimination, including by police, health providers, landlords, and employers, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; The Inspector General of Police should issue immediate guidance to all police officers and police medical staff not to carry out forced anal examinations on anyone arrested for any reason; The Uganda Police should cease all arrests based on consensual same-sex conduct.
The police Professional Standards Unit should investigate claims of ill-treatment including sexual assault and forced anal examsarbitrary arrest, violation of privacy, and extortion of alleged LGBTI people, and take legal or disciplinary actions against the officers responsible.
The unit should make a public statement encouraging reporting of such claims and ensuring confidentiality; The Attorney General should refrain from opposing a motion filed by activists in the High Court that the Anti-Homosexuality Act will not be enforced pending the outcome of a petition challenging its constitutionality; and The Health Ministry should adopt clear guidelines requiring patient confidentiality in all healthcare settings and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed in a context of mounting restrictions on human rights in Uganda. In the last year, Museveni has signed several other pieces of legislation that curtail rights, including the Public Order Management Act and the Anti-Pornography Act.
Activists have filed constitutional challenges against both laws. Some were evicted after being arrested, others after being outed in the media or merely because their landlords suspected them of being LGBTI.
Her landlord called and told her to leave by the following day.THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY ACT, An Act to prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; prohibit the promotion or recognition of such.
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