Thursday March 6 2014

Donors should be consistent

By Morris Komakech

The assent to the Anti-homosexuality Bill by President Museveni has generated much debate, controversies and a mixture of reactions. The most unusual, and yet very strong reactions to the Act, emerged from the donor community.

I think the donor community must be consistent in their responses to policy development in Uganda. If their strong reaction to the anti-homosexuality law is due to human rights concerns then they have let us all down. These donor communities have been feeding this ogre for so many years to the point that it has matured beyond a pet they thought they were breeding.
Human rights preservation is crucial for every human being irrespective of culture, creed, sexual orientation or association whether one is gay or not. And yet, these very same standards are not upheld when our opposition politicians are being humiliated by the police or Ugandans are dying senselessly. The donor community did not threaten this regime with stern action when the regime enacted the draconian Public Order Management Act, 2013.

As a member of the medical fraternity, I know better that discrimination against minority has profound long-term implication on public health systems. However, I am also sensitive to the dominant culture of Uganda, which views the same sex relationships as objectionable.
The Buggery Act of 1533 criminalised gay activities in Britain, which it considered sinful and punishable by death. Gay rights and activities only gained prominence between 1967 and 1982 and has just been consolidated by the Equality Act of 2012. The ultra-conservative section of the North American society still views gay marriages as improper.

My other discomfort with the law, outside of human rights concerns, relates to health inequities and access to other pertinent socio-economic services. Our social services are not capacitated to accommodate vulnerable groups such as women and persons with disability. Likewise, in the 60s and 70s, most medical experiments and drug tests were geared mainly to male related illnesses and conditions. This made it very difficult to contain women specific illnesses and conditions such as cervical and breast cancers.
Therefore, coming purely from a professional perspective, we have learned that discriminating against minority groups generate inequalities and institutionalises exclusion from social services.