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UGANDA: A timeline of events affecting LGBTI

NAIROBI, 11 July 2012 (IRIN) - Uganda has made international headlines in recent years for its strong anti-homosexuality stance, but health experts have warned that more must be done to include LGBTI in HIV prevention services. IRIN has put together a short timeline of key events in the struggle for their inclusion.

August 2007 - Human Rights Watch warns that the Uganda government's hostility towards the gay community is jeopardizing their access to health programmes and putting them at greater risk of infection. Earlier in the month, gay rights groups have held a rally to demand the decriminalization of homosexuality, while anti-gay religious groups have held separate rallies denouncing same-sex relationships.

October 2009 - David Bahati, MP for the ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM), tables the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which includes the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" - the sexual assault of a member of the same sex who is aged 18 or younger, or is disabled. Activists decry the bill as a violation of human rights that would make men who have sex with men (MSM) even less willing to access health services.

January 2010 - Under pressure from world leaders, including then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and US President Barack Obama - who termed the anti-gay bill "odious" - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says he will not back the bill. Edward Sekandi, then the Speaker, says it will need to be discussed. Analysts say the President's stance means the bill is unlikely to pass, despite being popular with MPs.

January 2011 - Prominent gay activist David Kato is murdered at his home in the central Ugandan district of Mukono. Gay rights groups condemn his killing as a hate crime, but police investigations and a court case find that Kato was murdered because of personal differences with a man known to him. Kato was one of several gay people "outed" by a local newspaper in 2010, when his photo appeard under the headline "Hang them".

May 2011 - David Bahati says he will introduce an altered version of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill under which the crime of "attempted homosexuality" and a clause requiring people to report homosexual activities to the police within 24 hours or face jail are deleted. The death penalty clause has also been removed.

October 2011 - British Prime Minister David Cameron threatens to cut aid to countries that outlaw homosexuality. Ugandan presidential advisor John Nagenda accuses Cameron of condescension and having a "bullying mentality".

December 2011 - In a speech on LGBTI at a UN meeting in Geneva, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declares that the Obama administration will fight discrimination against gays and lesbians by using foreign aid and diplomacy.

May 2012 - The first clinic for the LGBTI community opens in the capital, Kampala. Government officials are fiercely critical and deny that the public health system discriminates against them. Ethics and integrity minister Samuel Lokodo says he is investigating the clinic and will close it if its purpose is to "promote" homosexuality.

June 2012 - Ethics minister Samuel Lokodo shuts down a workshop for LGBTI in Kampala, claiming that it is promoting gay activity. He has shut down a similar meeting in February 2012. He later releases a statement saying Uganda does not discriminate against people of different sexual orientation - "Everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others."

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Theme (s): Aid Policy, Care/Treatment - PlusNews, Early Warning, Gender Issues, Governance, Health & Nutrition, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Prevention - PlusNews, Security, Stigma/Human Rights/Law - PlusNews,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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