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Stigma prevents LGBT from seeking health, other services

Saturday April 02 2022
LGBTQ

Rwanda has committed to instrument protecting the rights of LGBT community. Photo: Cyril Ndegeya

By MOSES K. GAHIGI

Members of the LGBT community in the country face the most discrimination from religious sects. A report by Health Development Initiative (HDI) reveled that a big number of them also face discrimination when accessing healthcare and social services.

The report, which sampled 499 members of the LGBT community, spread out in 6 districts, revealed that up to 47 percent face discrimination while trying to access health care services, 43 percent when seeking financial services and 54 percent while attempting to get social services.

This has left many of those living with HIV without their life saving HIV treatment like ARV’s, standing a higher chance of spreading the disease and increasing mortality among the community.

The report further revealed that 44 percent reported to have experienced stigma and discrimination when participating in religious events, 41.7 during cultural events, 30 percent when looking for housing while 25 percent faced discrimination while seeking education.

“The public perception survey indicated discrimination was highest in health facilities (70 percent and social protection/welfare (70 percent), approximately two-thirds of respondents suggested that discrimination is prominent in places of worship (58 percent). The injustices the community faces intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic, 64 percent of the vulnerable members of the LGBT faced discrimination while accessing food services.

As many lost their jobs with no source of stable income during the pandemic, the landlords used it as an excuse to kick them out of their houses, yet their families also couldn’t accommodate them saying they don’t want their ‘immoral habits’ to spread to young children who were at home for a long time due to the pandemic.

“During the pandemic, there were some of us who went back to live with our families because we could not afford to live alone anymore. These are families that have not yet accepted us, we had to be patient despite the insults and abuses from them since we had no other choice,” said one member of the community.

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Some are reported to have suffered arbitrary arrests and other forms of harassment at the hands of security agents and members of the general public.

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