Gay Rights Activists Consult over Uganda's AIDS Controll Bill

Published: February 14, 2012

Gay rights activists in Uganda have started consultations on the controversial HIV/Aids Control Bill 2010 which excludes homosexuals from HIV programming.

The bill is set for re-tabling in Uganda’s parliament next week.

The bill, which gay activists contested with a petition and memorandum to Ugandan Parliament in April last year, was due for its first reading last week, but this was not to be despite it having appeared on the official Parliamentary Order Paper.

Helen Kaweesa, the Official Parliamentary Spokeswoman told Behind the Mask today in Kampala that the bill would be tabled “soon.”

She said the bill which was first tabled in the Uganda Parliament by a private member, Beatrice Rwakimari, would be presented by the ministry of Health.

Kaweesa said, “The HIV bill is one of the bills that shall be brought to the floor by the Ministry. So, we are waiting for the ministry to present it.”

But an official in the Clerk of Parliament’s office said the bill was already in parliament and awaiting its first reading. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, would not however divulge details of the bill.

One of the most contentious issues in the bill is the exclusion of Ugandan homosexuals from access, care, treatment and support in Uganda’s HIV/Aids programmes.

However, Beatrice Rwakimari, the former Ugandan legislator who tabled the Bill 2010 told a meeting of sex workers and homosexuals activists at Hotel Triangle in December last year that she regrets the oversight in failing to include homosexuals in the management of the pandemic in the bill.

Rwakimari told that meeting if the bill she presented in parliament is passed in its current form, it would not be helpful to scaling down HIV infection among Ugandan minority groups.

Rwakimari, now the Vice Chairperson of the Aids Information Centre (AIC) in Kampala said “But I hope they [parliamentarians, will now] include homosexual rights to treatment.”

Gay right to health advocacy group, Uhspa Uganda on April 8, 2011 presented a petition to Ugandan parliament by LGBTIs contesting the non inclusion of homosexuals in interventions proposed in the HIV/Aids Control Bill.

Many LGBTI activists have also been actively engaging with Rwakimari and legislators to include homosexual rights to health in HIV programmes in Uganda.

Although minority groups have been mentioned in Uganda’s public health policy under MARPS (the Most at Risk Population groups), homosexuals are discriminated against even under MARPS arrangements.

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