Support and Advocacy for Intersex in Uganda

Julius Kaganzi KaggwaStatement of Julius Kaganzi Kaggwa, Director of SIPD Uganda 

Support Initiative for People with Congenital Disorders Uganda (SIPD) is based in Kampala and we work with clients in Kampala but have our outreach in 50 districts outside of Kampala, covering Western, Eastern, Central, and Northern Uganda, with a client base of 1.400 clients. These comprise intersex and gender non-conforming children and youth and some adults. We provide information, support parents of intersex children, advocate for intersex persons rights, create awareness, provide public education, and do capacity building for stakeholders. This is done through public meetings, radio and television broadcasts, newspaper articles, documentaries and these are distributed through community meetings, local and regional partners, district health centers, parents. They are distributed to policy makers in government, healthcare workers in the community, government ministries (health and education), parents, clients, and general public during mainstream meetings to which we are invited.

To create safe spaces for parents of intersex children and young intersex and gender non-conforming people, we formed support groups in each district where we do outreach and in several schools within those districts. We also have field based point persons that make door-to-door visits to the families of clients registered with us to encourage and counsel. SIPD also occasionally – due to limited resources – facilitates transportation of extremely impoverished parents to be able to see and engage with a friendly doctor about the health issues their child(ren) may be facing. We also advocate for rights through media engagements, documentary screenings at policy makers’ meetings, and petitions to specific policy and lawmakers. All our approaches – community engagement, parents and schools outreaches, media engagement, documentation and alliances building are designed to be able to educate the public and specific target paradigm shifters.

SIPD was an active member of the civil society coalition and its leadership provided the first leadership to the coalition against the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009. Since that time, through the signing of the Act and its annulment, several gains have been reached by the LGBTI community in Uganda but we have also in the recent months seen a lot of backlash in terms of insecurity consciousness because hate is still at large among the public and because we work mainly in communities, we still have to be very careful – especially about our advocacy narrative. The upside is that the annulment meant we can still work around tactful advocacy rather than have a constant fear of being shut down.

These insecurities have been a critical concern for SIPD over the recent months following several threatening incidents. Given the huge numbers of children and young people among our clients, we need to try and not get mistaken for “recruiters” of children into homosexuality, which is the popular narrative homophobes apply.  So with blackmailing threats from our landlord in recent months, it was imperative that we needed to find a safer location to operate from and continue our advocacy work.  Funding for intersex rights work is very scanty and especially in emergency situations, yet our inclusive and active engagement in human rights work — which include wider sexual orientation and gender identity rights advocacy — places us in a very risky terrain. The prompt support from Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation to enable us relocate our offices and acquire safe communication in this critical time has been so important in ensuring that we continue to work safely, changing attitudes and creating a safe reference space for the clients we serve.

SIPD Uganda ist eine Partnerorganisation der Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung, der Menschenrechtsstiftung des LSVD

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