Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For Immediate Press Release

November 29, 2009

Sexual Minorities Uganda -SMUG, Demands more National Non-Discriminatory
HIV/AIDS Approaches for Lesbians , Gays , Bisexuals , Transgender - LGBT
people in Uganda.

World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year, dedicated to raising
awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by HIV infection.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), calls for greater response to combat
HIV/AIDS. And as part of the National AIDS Strategy urges for, a national
strategy on HIV/AIDS that drives a more coordinated, non-discriminatory and
effective response to the epidemic.

The theme for this year's celebrations is Universe Access and Human Rights
with a sub theme: Working together against HIV stigma and discrimination.
It is a cross cutting phenomenon all over the world that HIV related stigma
and discrimination is a problem that needs to be addressed in ensuring the
achievement of Universal Access by 2010, and extenuating the impact of AIDS
by 2015. LGBT people living with HIV/AIDS have been victims of human rights
violations based on their sexual orientation which is a battle yet to be
totally conquered by Civil Society Organizations.

A world survey of criminalization laws in 2009 found that 80 nations
(including 10 of the PEPFAR focus countries - US President's Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief) have laws criminalizing same sex acts between consenting
adults. In countries like Uganda where homosexual relations are
criminalized, HIV-related prevention services, treatment and care are
difficult to provide because homosexuality is underground. Countries with
non-discriminatory laws for sexual orientation have shown to provide better
access to HIV treatment, care and services prevention .

Legislations like the Anti-Homosexuality bill 2009, currently before the
parliament of Uganda, targeting sexual minorities have been identified as
obstacles to effectively addressing HIV in Uganda. A 2009 joint report by
the Uganda AIDS Commission - UAC and UNAIDS specifically called for a review
of legal impediments to the inclusion of most-at-risk-populations -
including MSM - in the national AIDS response. But whereas UAC seems to be
moving towards this progress, discriminatory legislations may hinder this

If HIV prevalence and infection prevalence rates and mean age are higher
among women in Uganda, Women who have Sex with Women (WSW) must be part of
Uganda's HIV/AIDS interventions.

SMUG therefore urges government and HIV/AIDS service providers to:

. Include men who have sex with men - MSM and women who have sex with
women - WSW in the Uganda national AIDS strategic plans.
. Designate a human rights bureau position to monitor LGBT concerns
. Repeal/reform laws that criminalize homosexuality
. Improve human rights reporting on violence and discrimination
LGBT communities.

SMUG is a coalition of LGBT organizations that envisions a liberated LGBT
community free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity/ expression.

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