Protecting rights, preventing HIV
AIDS-Fondet funds and supports Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)’s work to increase access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services among key populations by reducing barriers that impede access to these services.
Working with LGBT+ persons and sex workers
Through the programme HRAPF addresses rights violations against sex workers and LGBT+ persons – violations that create a climate of fear, trauma and stigma that affect access to HIV services. To change that HRAPF provides legal aid and ensures access to justice for LGBT+ persons and sex workers.
HRAPF also offers training to health workers to improve the attitude towards key populations – which is much needed. According to a local study 8 out of 10 gay men feel that health workers are rude and disrespectful to them – and 85% are afraid to use health services.
Health workers play a key role in access to health services for all. But like many Ugandans, health workers are shaped by a society permeated by prejudice, so there is need to engage them and inform them to break the barriers and ensure equal and stigma-free access to health services.
Finally, HRAPF works to create legal and political change by engaging relevant persons in position of power – local leaders, policy makers and others from relevant ministries and commissions as well as local government structures.
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) is a Ugandan NGO that specialises in advocating for human rights in Uganda.
HRAPF’s mission is to promote respect and protection of human rights of marginalised persons and Key Populations through four programmatic areas:
- Access to Justice – to improve access to justice, HRAPF has set up a free, specialized and licensed legal aid clinic for KPs and other vulnerable groups. It also hosts “legal camps” to create awareness on human rights.
- Research and Advocacy – HRAPF carries out research on rights violations and analysis of policies and laws and conducts advocacy campaigns to influence policies and laws. HRAPF engages in national, regional, and international advocacy activities.
- Community Capacity Enhancement – HRAPF trains both duty-bearers and rights-holders on laws and rights – and trains paralegals to expand the impact of the training.
- Institutional Development – HRAPF assists organisations with low capacity to register and fulfill statutory obligations, in order help create a strong civil society.
HRAPF established the very first legal aid clinic providing legal aid services to Key Populations in Uganda in 2010.
Since then, it has championed access to justice for marginalised and underserved populations including lesbian women, gay men, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons (LGBTI persons), people who inject and use drugs (PWUIDs), sex workers and women and girls living with HIV.
The legal aid clinic at HRAPF’s headquarters in Kampala serves the entire country and provides oversight and support to regional legal aid centres.
Since 2010 HRAPF has filed and supported 10 strategic litigation cases on rights of LGBT persons, including the case that led to the annulment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014.
HRAPF works closely with state institutions like the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Uganda Police Force, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Judiciary.
AIDS-Fondet and HRAPF
HRAPF and AIDS-Fondet first collaborated between 2019-2021 in a programme aimed at preventing HIV among Key Populations. The current programme (2022-2025) is the second phase.
In the first phase HRAPF made solid progress in empowering key populations and enable them to fight stigma – they can now more confidently demand equitable access to HIV services. They are now also increasingly met by health workers who are more informed and aware of the laws and rights of key populations, and so stigma and discrimination have decreased.
Furthermore, marginalized people have been able to register and run strong organisations that can continuously challenge the status quo and document violations. This provides ammunition for advocacy efforts to end stigma and discrimination.
Civic space is continuously shrinking in Uganda – and the cocktail of Corona and a political opposition gaining momentum, has been used as a pretext for increased hostility and clampdown on freedom of expression and assembly from government – both towards political activists and opposition but also criminalized groups at the margin of society.
This contributes to the erosion of democracy and fuels the number and the gravity of human rights violations.
NGO's targeted for contravening laws of Uganda
In 2016, the Ugandan parliament passed the NGO Act that states that no permits shall be granted to organisations whose objectives contravene the ‘laws and interest of the people of Uganda’ – and many organisations working with LGBT persons and sex workers have felt the effect of that as their mere existence has been seen as contravening the ‘laws and interest of the people of Uganda.’
Despite the deteriorating human rights situation, many rights are in fact enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution. Uganda has also agreed to several international human rights instruments which mean that it is obligated to protect, respect, and promote human rights or be held accountable.
However, that increasingly looks like window dressing.
Actions of sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM) are criminalised in Uganda as ‘prostitution’ and ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ respectively.
This criminalisation coupled with ignorance of laws and rights by the criminalized groups themselves fuel stigma and discrimination that limit access to HIV services derailing the fight against AIDS.
And as a consequence, HIV prevalence in groups that are criminalised and discriminated against is higher than in the general population:
- Female sex workers: 31%
- Men who have sex with men: 13%
- Transgender persons: 20%
Funded by Civil Society in Development
AIDS-Fondet’s support for and collaboration with Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum is funded by Civil Society in Development (CISU) in Denmark – through the Civil Society Fund – from 2022 to 2025. It is the second phase of funding for a programme that began in 2019 and encompasses four organisations in Malawi and Uganda.
The Civil Society Fund is an independent support facility financed by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and run by CISU.
The ministry prescribes the general criteria for awarding grants based on the decisions of the Danish Parliament regarding Danish development cooperation.
The overall amount of the Civil Society Fund is appropriated annually in the Danish Finance Act (Finansloven).
Read more about CISU by clicking the logo.