Uganda gay rights advocate calls for scrapping of anti-prostitution laws

A Ugandan advocate for sex workers and homosexual rights, Busingye Kabumba has said prostitution and anti-abortion laws should be repealed to encourage the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women.

Kabumba, a lecturer at Makerere University’s Faculty of Law in Kampala also said there is a “Need to streamline the Ugandan legal framework in light of the international legal structure on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHRs) for young women in the country.”

Kabumba told a workshop on the SRHR for young women Thursday in Kampala that laws which criminalise prostitution and abortion were detrimental to Uganda’s fight against HIV/Aids and promotion of SRHRs.

In his paper, “Challenges to Young Women’s enjoyment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Uganda within the Context of HIV/Aids” which was delivered at the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) meeting, Kabumba said, “There is need to streamline the Ugandan legal framework in light of the international legal structure.”

HURIPEC is a semi-autonomous department under the Faculty of Law of Makerere University set up by Makerere University in 1993, as the first human rights centre of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was established solely to foster on teaching, research and activism on human rights and peace issues at the University.

HURIPEC, which has consistently denounced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 and also defending the rights of sex workers, has for the past two years been conducting research on the experience of young women in Uganda in the context of HIV/Aids.

Other studies presented at the dissemination meeting included one titled We Are More Than Just Our Bodies: HIV/Aids and the Human Rights Complexities Affecting Young Women who have Sex with Women in Uganda.

The researchers recommended setting up a good working relationship with minority women’s organizations and law enforcing organizations to promote the SRHRs of young women in Uganda. “That way, the law can be enforced and young women can feel confident to rely on government bodies like the police to defend their SRHR,” Kabumba noted.

Kabumba also recommended that Government should support education of legal experts, police, judges, defence lawyers and public prosecutors in civil law and political rights. In this way, it is expected that the legal rights of girls and women and of vulnerable and marginalized groups will be strengthened and take part in the law making process.

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