LBQ Womxn in Uganda: a plea for equal access to health

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4/9/21

Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) organisation, is about to publish a book urging Ugandan human rights and health-care rights advocates to incorporate acceptance of sexual and gender diversity in their work. he book “Queering SRHR: A Guide for LBQ Womxn” highlights lessons learned about how health services, health care and information can and should be more inclusive. The focus is on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of LBQ womxn, who are referred to using the alternative spelling “womxn” to be inclusive of trans and non-binary people and to avoid the suggestion of sexism that some perceive in the letters “m-a-n”. Living in a country where sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are highly politicized and moralized, and the voices of LBQ womxn are not heard, Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) believes that the book will be an important addition to the ongoing campaign for equal access to sexual and reproductive health services. An author of the soon-to-be-published book who is known as Sasha says LBQ womxn in Uganda face discrimination, exclusion and stigmatization, and as a result have difficulty accessing much-needed SRHR information and services. “As long as you’re fighting HIV, you shouldn’t leave out anyone,” adds Joanita Warry, FARUG executive director. If lesbians are more reserved about discussing their sexuality, that doesn’t mean they aren’t also at risk of contracting HIV, she says. (See the documentary “Beyond Inclusion: The Lived Realities of Ugandan LGBT Persons in Access to Healthcare” starting about 5:36.) Sasha says exclusion, discrimination and stigmatization have pushed many LBQ womxn into depression, with some becoming suicidal and others resorting to substance abuse. “It is therefore essential to provide organizations advocating for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and SRHR service providers with opportunities to learn how to be more inclusive of all those within the communities they serve,” she says.

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