Statement from Dr. Vanessa Kerry on Uganda’s Proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill

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Anti-Homosexuality Bill will Jeopardize Uganda’s Health Workers if Enacted into Law

For Immediate Release

The new anti-homosexuality bill passed by the Ugandan parliament last week, which criminalizes anyone who even identifies as LGBTQI+, will have dire consequences both for the people of Uganda and the health workers who serve them if signed into law. 

While I respect the sovereignty, culture, and values of the people of Uganda and their right to make their own laws, I am deeply concerned about the potential impact on the health of Ugandans and health workers if this bill is passed.

The anti-homosexuality bill not only violates the fundamentals of medical ethics – do no harm, act in the best interest of the patient, ensure fairness – but also the spirit of universal health coverage, in which all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them. Access to health care for all is also fundamental to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

If enacted, the law would stop patients from disclosing their sexual orientation to health workers, stop many from seeking care, and potentially deny people access to timely and lifesaving treatment. Further, the stigma, paranoia, and blackmail of potential ‘outings’ would put many in harm’s way – whether that means a person is denied treatment because they are suspected of identifying as LGBTQ+ or health workers are targeted for giving treatment and not disclosing information.

Health workers cannot in good conscience segregate the delivery of health care nor can they violate the confidence of the clinical consultation. The proposed bill undermines the fundamental basics of health care, medical ethics, and will further complicate the challenging circumstances in which many health workers already find themselves. 

As a physician, my sworn oath, personal commitment, and moral code are to care for the whole patient with clinical excellence, compassion, and respect. I can only do that when there is trust and full disclosure so that I am able to give the most complete care. 

Over the past decade, Seed Global Health has partnered with Ugandan universities and health facilities to train more than 9,000 physicians, nurses, and midwives to improve access to high-quality health care. Most recently, we helped equip health workers with the information, resources, and skills they needed to successfully fight the 2022 Ebola outbreak.

By putting both the patient and health worker in harm’s way, the decision to enact this bill into law could set back the progress Uganda has made towards improving the health of its citizens – including tackling stubbornly high maternal mortality rates, cutting deaths from HIV and AIDS, and increasing equitable access to health services for all.

I urge President Museveni to reject this damaging bill. To do otherwise would put the health and wellbeing of all Ugandans in grave jeopardy.

About Seed Global Health 

Seed Global Health envisions a world in which every patient receives appropriate and life changing care from well-trained health workers. We have seen first hand how long-term investments in the health workforce can improve health outcomes in any setting. Over the last decade, Seed has trained almost 40,000 doctors, nurses, and midwives across the African continent who are now providing high-quality care to an estimated 74 million people in their communities.

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Tom Fairchild
Media and Advocacy Director
+44 7772 238359


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