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Row erupts over purchase of 964,000 sex lubricants worth Sh3billion for homosexuals

The ministry of health has bluntly opposed the procurement of 964,000 sex lubricants for the sexual minorities.

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The Purchase  which has sharply divided the political leadership and technocrats at the Ministry, first emerged during the ministry’s quarterly review meeting on Friday last week according to the daily monitor.

The meeting turned rowdy after Dr Patrick Tusiime, the head of National Disease Control Programme, presented an expenditure on procurement of 964,000 sex lubricants using funds provided by the Global Funds.

Ms Sarah Opendi, the State minister of Health in charge of General Duties, however quickly questioned the purchase of the lubricants for the sexual minorities, indicating that homosexuality remains illegal under the Penal Code Act.

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“We are very surprised by the progromme manager of the Aids Control Programme. We are reviewing our previous quarter work plan and during his presentation, he talked about procurement of 964,000 lubricants,” Ms Opendi said.

Mr Kikonyongo Kivumbi, who represents key affected populations on the Country Coordinating Mechanism, the agency that oversees the implementation of Global Fund, however defended the purchase and said the minister was misinformed on the use of the lubricants.

“The lubricants are part of the Global Fund grant and it’s not only the homosexuals who need the lubricant but also discordant couples and other normal people,”

Homophobia is rife in Uganda and homosexuals live in fear of persecutions. In February 2014, President Yoweri  Museveni received international  backlash after he signed the Anti-Homosexuality that criminalize homosexuality  and those convicted faced life in prison.

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A few months later, the legislation was however annulled because of technical hitch because it lacked enough quorum at the time of passing the bill.

Bruising while engaging in sexual activity is one of the main ways of contracting the HIV virus and Homosexuals have a bigger risk of this, It is now feared that as a result of the row, homosexuals may go underground for fear of stigmatisation and not seek medical treatment and in the process increase the risk of contracting HIV/Aids.

In order not to blow their cover because of homophobia, homosexuals always try to cohabit with the opposite gender so has to pass off as heterosexual couple and in the process infect their partners as well.

Global fund is the world’s largest financier of anti-Aids, TB and malaria programmes. As of July 2016, the organisation had disbursed $30 billion to needy countries, including Uganda.

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Uganda have no specific legal protections. Activists estimated in 2007 that the Ugandan LGBT community consisted of 500,000 people.

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