A Bishop from Uganda has warned that LGBT people living with HIV/AIDs face hardship and prejudice because of their identity, leading many to hide their health conditions and avoid proper treatment.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, an Anglican clergyman formerly of the Church of Uganda, said the number of Ugandans with HIV/AIDs was on the rise and that many of these people were forced into hiding by prejudice and ignorance surrounding the disease.
Speaking to The Thomson Reuters Foundation, Bishop Senyonjo said: “This is being reported by people working with HIV/AIDS … [They say that infection rates] are rising and that there is fear. People need to understand that people don’t need to be punished … for their sexual orientation.”
Although his support for LGBT people lead the Church of Uganda to strip him of his title, the Bishop has continued to work as the head of the St Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre in Kampala.
The Centre runs numerous programmes, including healthcare for people with HIV and support for LGBT people who have been estranged from their families.
“Most people in Uganda are against LGBT people,” said Bishop Senyonjo. “They need a lot of sensitisation and this is what we are trying to do. If you give knowledge, I think you will change attitudes.
“I think educated people are coming to understand more that LGBT people are also humans who should be respected,” he added.
Speaking with the Senegalese President Macky Sall, President Obama said: “I believe that everybody has to be treated equally”.
President Sall replied : “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. I’ve already said it in the past. We’re still not ready to change the law. This does not mean that we are all homophobic.”
Homosexuality remains illegal in 39 countries in sub-Saharan African.
The parliaments of Uganda, Liberia and Nigeria have draft laws before them, seeking to increase penalties.
In South Africa, at least seven people, five of them lesbians, were murdered between June and November 2012 in what appears to have been targeted violence related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.