Uganda Steps Backward with Anti-Gay Legislation

News from Uganda that the government is seeking to reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality” will only serve to drive people of same-sex orientation underground. The implications for public health efforts are dire, and there is no doubt that if the bill is passed into law, it will deal a body blow to HIV prevention efforts.

In Uganda, as in many parts of Africa, the health of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans and Intersexual Peoples is marginalized. This sub-group is already faced many challenges including HIV, STDs and STIs, and mental health problems due to lack of access to services.

“This bill is a blow to the progress of democracy in Uganda,” said David Kato of Sexual Minorities Uganda. “Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and un-African.”

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission the Ugandan Parliament is now considering a homophobic law that would reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality.”

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else who fails to report them to the authorities whether they are inside or outside of Uganda.

The proposed law will effectively criminalize homosexuality, and consequently bar any person of same-sex orientation from seeking public health services. Continue reading

The Great Vasectomy Fear

For most men, the idea of vasectomy, a surgical procedure to cut and close off the tubes that deliver sperm from the testicles, is a complete no-can-do associated with being sexually dysfunctional in the male psyche.

According to the latest issue of Population Reports, titled “Vasectomy: Reaching Out to New Users,” published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, vasectomy is simpler and more cost effective than female sterilization and offers men a way to share responsibility for family planning.

“The most entrenched and powerful rumors concern manhood, masculinity, and sexual performance. Many men confuse vasectomy with castration and fear, incorrectly, that vasectomy will make them impotent,” says the report.  But in fact, “Castration involves removal of the testicles. In contrast, vasectomy leaves the testicles intact, and they continue to produce male hormones.”

The procedure which typically takes from 15-30 minutes and usually causes few complications and no change in sexual function is one of the most reliable forms of contraception. Though it does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections or HIV, for couples it is a way for men to be directly involved in family planning. Family planning has been largely seen as the responsibility of women but vasectomies allow men to play a part.

The report states that the largest number of vasectomized men are in China, where almost 7% of women in relationships — or more than 17 million couples — rely on vasectomy for birth control. Continue reading