Manuel Irizar is Programme Officer for Inclusive Development and HIV/AIDS Focal Point for UNDP in Argentina.
06 May 2014
In recent years, Argentinian society has made significant progress as relates to the full exercise of citizens’ rights. However, sexually diverse groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LBGT) people still face discriminatory situations affecting dramatically their quality of life.
Access to free public health services for LGBTs has always been problematic in Argentina. At UNDP, we consider that the system’s shortcomings must be countered by concrete initiatives - such as theFriendly Clinics for Sexual Diversity. Financed by our Regional Office, the project involves setting up dedicated areas for LGBTs as part of the public health service. These areas are supervised through joint action by social organizations, local HIV programs and Public Hospital Services.
A joint task force involving civil society organizations and a health team working at the Public Hospital has been established to raise awareness of the Friendly Clinics, and to encourage and accompany regular visits by members of the diversity groups accessing health care. The health team provides services such as medical care, counseling and diagnosis of HIV and other STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), psychosocial support and schedules specific treatments required by the patients.
To get this proposal off the ground,we surveyed 11 provinces across the country to gather information about the LGBT experience in the various regions. Three reasons limit access and quality of care for diversity groups: the fear of disclosing sexual orientation or sexual practices; discrimination and stigmatization; and professional and institutional constraints hindering closer collaboration with such populations.
The Friendly Clinics being set up in various locations in 4 provinces are a tangible proof of the ability of UN agencies to come together and collaborate with local counterparts to provide an effective, innovative and inclusive response to these problems, both in terms of access to public health and of full enjoyment of rights by all Argentina citizens.
LBGT people aspire to receive the same health, education, or employment services as all of us. We need to open up more options for diversity groups and promote the full exercise of their rights through creative and flexible public policies.
Let us not forget that people are the key to human development - all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.