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Africa

Uganda health minister: Gays will not be denied medical care

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
APIn this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, Uganda's health minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, speaks to the media outside Mulago Hospital, Uganda’s national referral hospital, in Kampala, Uganda.

AP
In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, Uganda’s health minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, speaks to the media outside Mulago Hospital, Uganda’s national referral hospital, in Kampala, Uganda.

KAMPALA, Uganda — The medical workers who knew he was gay ignored him, attending to those who arrived after him as they openly gossiped about his homosexuality.

Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent gay activist in Uganda, said Wednesday he recently was forced to confront some nurses at a private clinic after they neglected to serve him in apparent hostility toward his sexual orientation.

Now that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed a new law imposing harsh sentences for gay sex, life is expected to become even more difficult for the country’s homosexuals, including getting health care. The Ugandan government has issued assurances that health workers will not discriminate against homosexuals, but some gays say they are not confident about that.

Uganda’s health minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that gays will not be discriminated against by medical workers despite the strengthening of criminal penalties against homosexuals.

Rugunda said that a clause which would have required medical workers to report homosexuals to police was removed from the bill that became law on Monday.

“We are saying that as far as health is concerned, they are at liberty,” he said, talking about gays. “They should give full disclosure to their nurses … We do not discriminate against patients on the basis of sexual orientation. That’s why we are encouraging gay Ugandans to take advantage of the health systems.”

But Onziema, who is one of the few openly gay Ugandans, said he and other homosexuals have experienced prejudice when seeking health care.

“I once went to a clinic where I stayed in the queue (line) for hours and people who came after me were being served,” he said. “You stand in the queue and they ignore you. And you hear them saying, ‘That is a gay person. We can’t serve him. We shall not serve him.’”

The new law has already spread fear among gay Ugandans and many now are actively trying to flee the country, said Onziema.

Inflaming rampant anti-gay sentiment in this East African country, a Ugandan tabloid newspaper on Tuesday published a list of what it called the country’s “200 top homosexuals,” saying it wanted to expose gays and their sympathizers “in salutation to the new-anti-gay law.” That list included many people who previously had not identified themselves as gay, endangering their jobs and lives, said Onziema.

Uganda’s new anti-gay law prescribes life imprisonment for those convicted of engaging in gay sex. It also creates the offenses of “conspiracy to commit homosexuality” and “aiding and abetting homosexuality,” both of which are punishable by seven years behind bars. Those convicted of “promoting homosexuality” face similar punishment.

There have been no physical attacks on gays since the law came into force on Monday, but Onziema said he was trying to confirm a report that two “suspected gay men” walking hand in hand were attacked Tuesday in a Kampala suburb.

Although the new anti-gay measure is popular among many of Uganda’s 34 million people, it has been widely condemned around the world. Rights groups say it is draconian and unnecessary in a country where homosexuality was already criminalized under a colonial-era law.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is demanding a revision or repeal of Uganda’s anti-gay law, warning that it could fuel prejudice and encourage harassment against gays. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has warned that it could cut aid to Uganda over the new law.

But those who support the law in Uganda say such a tough measure was needed to deter the West from promoting homosexuality in Africa. In signing the bill, Museveni shrugged off Western criticism as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.

Some Ugandan lawyers and activists have said they will challenge the law in court as impossible to implement and illegitimate in a country whose constitution bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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68 more reader comments:

  1. Well aren’t they nice!!! Don’t do us a favor homophobes!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:15pm
  2. so, then treat him and report him so he can be killed….great country.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:15pm
  3. They will need medical care after the bigots’ gay bashing!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:15pm
  4. They want to make sure gays suffer in jail.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:15pm
  5. nope, their names will go on a list for later perusal by “authorities” at a later date. How anyone will trust this government ever gain is beyond me.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:16pm
  6. Yeah, they’ll get great medical care while serving life in prison.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:17pm
  7. So the government and people can abuse and kill and the doctors can fix them up for that process to repeat?i

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:17pm
  8. More news from another third world Shithole.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:18pm
  9. If this petition gets 100,000 signatures by March 26t the White House has to address it. Please help make this viral.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/united-states-should-halt-all-funds-uganda-until-recent-anti-gay-legislation-they-passed-repealed/qnkydjFS

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:18pm
  10. This is what happens when the “loving Christians” come to town to teach you how Jesus wants us all to treat each other. I’m sorry, but Africans most not be too intelligent, because they all believe the horse those Christians sling at them when they visit there.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:19pm
  11. Its 2014 wtf

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:19pm
  12. That doesn’t make me feel any better about it being ‘illegal’ to be gay there. I wouldn’t be telling my doctors over there that I’m gay.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:19pm
  13. Now that is so generous of you! Keep us healthy so you can behead us. That’s coming soon I’m sure.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:20pm
  14. Keep fighting!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:20pm
  15. With all their hostility towards the GLBT community, I would be concerned that they will turn them in to authorities and be jailed.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:21pm
  16. So kind of them…. !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:22pm
  17. am from uganda but which kind of health care, after being illigal in the country… this is rediculous… we need a strike…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:23pm
  18. Sooo you want to keep your much hated gays alive? Wtf uganda make a choice. For humans or not for humans

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:23pm
  19. That person is probably going to end up dead for saying that.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:25pm
  20. They’ll just be fast tracked for prison.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:25pm
  21. they will be eradicated….

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:25pm
  22. because they bury the corpses for free, then; they don’t need health care. Terrible.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:25pm
  23. Not judt arrested a face life in prison if they dare to admit it or even accused

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:26pm
  24. But apparently they will be denied the right to live?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:28pm
  25. I don’t believe they will give them the care they will need after having the crap beaten out of them.. stupid stupid STUPID!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:31pm
  26. They’re allowing gays to be treated in order to get names and addresses! I feel so sorry for all of them, I hope they can find asylum in a humane country :-/

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:32pm
  27. Liars. They’ll probably arrest them from their hospital beds and put them to death.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:34pm
  28. the EVILS of evangelical christanity.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:35pm
  29. Fuck you

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:36pm
  30. Thats cause most of their medical care comes from missionary trips from the united States and other countries where its illegal to punish people for being gay (unless your a resident of Arizona *shakes head*)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:37pm
  31. Such a backward country!! I do not like it at all!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:40pm
  32. Yay gays can be casually beaten half to death but they won’t be denied medical care, go Uganda…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:41pm
  33. But they’ll be arrested? So, they will have health care in prison?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:41pm
  34. The only reason they want to give them healthcare is so they can “fix” them.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:41pm
  35. I could imagine the medical care that they offer. My dog gets better care from his Vet not doubt.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:43pm
  36. Good for them!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:45pm
  37. Nope. They will probably be euthanized like a stray dog

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:50pm
  38. They will just be tortured, imprisoned and killed. Do tgey have Obamacare too? Bet their premiums are cheap..RepubliCANT’S should be seeing how their death panels work.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:52pm
  39. Its like the Holocaust, all over again. :-

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:55pm
  40. Again fuck you burn in hell

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:05pm
  41. I don’t believe it….

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:07pm
  42. FUCK OFF Uganda, the entire backwards piece of shit country can go to hell.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:18pm
  43. The political climate in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, Alabama, is so close to Berlin 1933 that it is frightening. Liberty is eroded step by step. First you define the group as lesser than the majority body politic. Once that’s established, then you make it more difficult for the population at large to see them as valued members of society, then as human. Once that’s become the norm, it’s easier to ghettoize both philosophically, politically, and physically. Then come the boxcars…
    In 1932, the Liberal and Centrists establishments in Germany were convinced that the Nazi threat was minimal or could at least be managed.
    Do not EVER forget that one of the German military mottos was GOTT MIT UNS.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:34pm
  44. Really!!! Those people will be shy to talk about the sexual life for avoiding be jailed

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:37pm
  45. If you kill them they don’t need healthcare you asses.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:47pm
  46. He will need medical care for the ptsd over this absurd law,mental health,and incase he gets gay bashed,he might need a hospital bed,unless they just murder him and throw him in the ground,just disappears,I see nothing good in these laws,only darkness and death,these anti gay laws are criminal.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:48pm
  47. Send us your money. Running the killing machine is expensive.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:54pm
  48. What an Uncivilized Country! Back to the Dark Ages!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:57pm
  49. If you are gay, a family member who knows your gay & does not turn you in, Both are going to jail. This law is the embodiment of Hitker killing the jews. This is what happens when Pick-n-Choose religion is forced into an uneducated society.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 4:59pm
  50. as they go to prison…stay in africa and out of our lives in America.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:02pm
  51. so if a young teen is gay they would kill them too, omg wtf

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:12pm
  52. They will receive healthcare in prison- excuse me is that what you’re saying?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:20pm
  53. True dat!! The gays will be dead!!! These fucking jungle bunnies are sicker than the Nazis before them.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:27pm
  54. Britain must cut all international aid to that country!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:29pm
  55. … After they’ve been beaten in the streets and Murdered Brutally … or while in Prison for being Gay !!! ;o( All Foreign aid to this Brutally Backward country of Terror should Cease Forthwith !!! Allocate it to LGBT Asylum seekers while supporting them to Leave this Sadistic country of Hate and Violence !!! ;o(

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:49pm
  56. This is not to be trusted and may be a ploy to seek out gays and then place them under arrest.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:58pm
  57. Exactly!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:59pm
  58. Yeah, right!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:17pm
  59. ‘IF’ you believe this…I have a ‘used’ Car for you to buy too…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:22pm
  60. Is this like the TIME OF THE Caveman? WAKE UP AND SMELL 2014.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:27pm
  61. thank you sir

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:28pm
  62. And yet they’re still gonna be imprisoned?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:40pm
  63. At least they will be healthy when they bare broken..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  64. Ya, we’re opening a Rev. Jones clinic just for the homos.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:59pm
  65. Sure they won’t

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:41pm
  66. Yes health care in jail

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:41pm
  67. Oh gee thanks…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:46pm
  68. As soon as they ask for health care they will be jailed for life or worse killed.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:50pm