Uganda is getting ready to double-down on their state-sponsored homophobia with proposal that would bar non-governmental organizations from “promoting” homosexuality but would in fact prevent these groups from providing medical care and education not only to gays but also to victims of sexual violence.
Uganda has drafted a new law that would bar non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from promoting homosexuality, tightening rules further after anti-gay legislation in February was widely condemned as draconian.
The draft, now being studied by the cabinet before being introduced in parliament, would also ban foreign NGOs from meddling in the east African country’s politics, junior internal affairs minister James Baba told Reuters on Monday.
Critics say the legislation will further erode civil liberties and entrench a climate of oppression and political intolerance already evolving ahead of 2016 polls in which veteran leader, Yoweri Museveni, is expected to stand.
The February law strengthened punishments for having gay sex and imposed jail terms of up to life for some categories of homosexuality, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.
The needs of male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence living as refugees in Uganda, of whom there are several hundred, are poorly met, with recent legislation against homosexuality making matters worse, according to a new report.
According to one humanitarian official working in the field who preferred anonymity, “many survivors have medical needs due to the assault and have undergone a series of surgeries. However, due to limited medical services available in Uganda, the assault still affects their physical and emotional health. Some of the medical conditions expressed include back pain, leg pain, STI and STD [sexually transmitted infections and diseases] and bleeding.”
“Much more progress is required in interventions addressing the challenges faced by male survivors of sexual violence” especially in the fields of health, stigmatization and security, according to the report, issued earlier this month by Makerere University’s Refugee Law Project (RLP) to mark the second anniversary of Men of Hope, one of several self-help groups it supports.
The solution offered by Ugandan government to the problem of treating sexual violence is to claim that because this is not “an African problem,” NGOs should “just ignore it.”
“Just ignore it,” Uganda’s Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru told IRIN.
“The problem of refugees in Uganda is not male rape or homosexuality. It’s a minor issue. It’s being promoted and made prominent by the whites and NGOs who want funding,” he said.
“Our basic concern for the refugees is food, shelter, water, health and their safety. Male rape, homosexuality, is not an African issue,” he said.