I want to start a discussion about the horrific situation occurring in Uganda as we speak. For those of you who don't know, the government of Uganda passed legislation in December 2013 making homosexuality an offense punishable by life imprisonment. The bill further goes on to state that even those 'associated with or supporters of homosexuality' will be punished by imprisonment.
Newspapers have published front page articles with pictures, addresses, and phone numbers of known gay people and violence in escalating. Hate crimes are building momentum and many LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender) folks are seeking asylum in other countries. In addition to the human rights violations and inequity, the health of the entire country is at risk.
Aid is being cut by some European countries, including Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, and others like Austria and Sweden, are similarly reviewing their aid commitments. U.S. policymakers are discussing halting aid to Uganda for the coming fiscal year in protest. The foreseeable consequences of these cuts are terrifying and will likely affect the majority of Ugandans.
Additionally, one of my greatest concerns is the care and treatment for LGBT Ugandans, including those living with HIV. With a long history of cultural stigma and hatred toward them, these marginalized individuals are no longer protected by the law, now they are hiding. We know that marginalized groups are more at-risk for HIV transmission, decreased access to care, and life-saving ARVs. Without appropriate treatment and support, the HIV epidemic has the potential to skyrocket, especially among MSM.
As leaders in global health delivery, as nurses- we need to act.
I am wondering if anyone knows of any organizations that are either openly or discreetly providing care to LGBT individuals in Uganda. Do any of our fellow nurses with policy experience think we could have some clout if we push the US government on this issue? Is anyone affiliated with the International Council of Nurses or a similar international organization that could help give us a voice? I personally am committed to taking action on my end, including returning to East Africa to provide direct care and educational support to nurses.
Any suggestions/comments anyone has are greatly appreciated.
(I have chosen to create an anonymous profile because if opportunities arise for me (or others) to go to Uganda for support, I don't want to risk prosecution. It may seem overprotective, but according to friends (both African and expats) the situation is ACTUALLY that serious. Thank You.