TYPOLOGY AND CHARACTERISTICS OF SEXUAL MINORITIES IN UGANDA FOLLOWED FROM JUNE 2009- JULY 2011 AND COMPARING SIMILAR EXPERIENCES IN KENYA AND TANZANIA


THOMAS M. (CEO, MARPS IN UGANDA ORGANISATION)

BACKGROUND:
Same sex attraction, orientation, relations, sexual attraction, practices and organisation are a new frontier for HIV/Human rights programming. The objective of this presentation is to establish whether gay, same-sex sexual behaviour, men-who-have-sex-with-men (msm), women-who-have-sex-women (wsw) lesbian, homosexual, transgender (tg) and bisexual persons have programmable issues. All these for the sake of capture for this paper are reduced into the term ‘gay’. A comparison is made from Kenya and Tanzania for wider perspective.

METHODOLOGY:
Meeting with key leaders of groups/organisations during a travel by road from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, using the telephone to conduct short interviews on self and risk perception, using e-mail to share developmental stories, cross sectional probe and attending 52 social events in Uganda organised by 52 groups under the umbrella of MARPS in Uganda Organisation

FINDINGS:
Criminalisation in all 3 countries impacts on self determination and same sex behaviour, religious anti-gay/hate campaigns fuel stigma and discrimination, ambivalent reception of intentions of perceived gay friendly spaces is common, health service provision is demanded and Kenya is leading in inclusion of gay community in all its programmes followed by Tanzania, Uganda has a foremost advocacy for self determination however funding for grass-root programmes is so sporadic as to have any significant impact. Uganda however, has many groups that are on self-help basis using community contribution in form of rented safe spaces to service providers giving services without pay/salary.

LESSONS LEARNT:
Genuine allies and some fake organisations claiming allegiance for financial or selfish gains exist, community integration is influenced by skills, issues of health care, empowerment (especially economical), legal/rights and psychosocial services’ issues abound. Same sex sexuality landscape has unique characteristics in form of: organisation, lived experiences for example in Kisumu where there is increasing tolerance and planned action to engage security operatives in punishing hate crimes, in Nairobi the media has been keenly engaged to reduce stigma, in Dar-es-salaam organisation around visibility has provided for plans to include sexual minorities in urban administration plans, in Uganda organisation around anti-homosexuality Bill and anti-discrimination campaigns is a thrust for self determination. The internet based gay social networks are a newer frontier for affirming same sex sexuality however, proficiency in English language and computer literacy are a hindrance. Squalid living with exposure to mosquito bites is common. There is a general tendency of living outside their means.

CONCLUSION:

Prejudices and mis-conceptions against same sex behaviour hinders positive self determination efforts.

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