Behind the Mask LGBT African website
26 February 2007 – Mail & Guardian online
One step forward, two steps back for Africa’s gay people
by Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Nairobi, Kenya – The issue of lesbian and gay Africans’ human rights again came to the fore recently as Anglican Church leaders met in Tanzania amid the continuing row over the consecration of a gay United States bishop in 2003. An ultimatum was sent from the conference in Dar es Salaam to US bishops to make a commitment that same-sex unions would not be blessed. African Anglicans have opposed the American Gene Robinson’s consecration as bishop on the basis of his sexual orientation. The meeting followed the World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya, in January this year where hundreds of people flocked to the so-called Q-Tent in a country where homosexuality has been criminalised.
In the tent, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from all over the continent and the globe shared their experiences of discrimination. They also spoke about the progress being made towards realising human rights for LGBT minorities. The Anglican Church’s discussions in Tanzania this week took place in a country that criminalises homosexuality. Zanzibar has recently passed a law punishing people who engage in homosexual acts with prison sentences of up to 15 years. Lesbians found guilty of “improper conduct” can be sent to prison for seven years. Tanzania is one of several African countries where lesbians and gays are being denied their human rights. These measures seem to be in reaction to advances in lesbian and gay rights made in Southern Africa.
In Nigeria, the Parliament is considering a Bill to prohibit gay and lesbian people from marrying or even politically organising themselves. Rwanda and Zimbabwe are another two countries that have strengthened their anti-homosexual legislation. In Uganda and Kenya, a “homosexual act” can land someone in jail for 15 years. After police harassment of lesbian and gay activists in Uganda, a campaign was run to “out” lesbian and gay individuals by publicising their names. Numerous activists, including the leader of Sexual Minorities of Uganda, Juliet Victor Mukasa, have fled Uganda, fearing for their lives.
In Southern Africa, the lesbian and gay movement has made great strides. In South Africa, the rights of lesbians and gays to marry were recently entrenched in a new law. A pilot project to sensitise children in secondary school about homosexuality is being considered in South Africa’s Gauteng province. Administrators in KwaZulu-Natal have indicated that they, too, are looking at the possible introduction of this programme. In neighbouring Namibia, an active gay and lesbian community has through persistent campaigns managed to start a conversation with the religious sector.
The NGO The Rainbow Project, which fights for lesbian and gay human rights in Namibia, has organised meetings between religious leaders and the LGBT community. While many lesbian and gays become alienated from organised religion because of homophobic statements made by clergy, there are religious leaders who promote the rights of sexual minorities, said Ian Swartz, chairperson of The Rainbow Project. As example, he stressed that the Anglican Church is divided on the issue of Robinson. He said many lesbian and gay Africans remain religious, making it necessary to talk to religious leaders about the acceptance of sexual diversity. “They want to go to church because they still identify with the religious values that they grew up with. For many the church is the place where they find answers to life’s questions,” said Swartz.
Liz Frank, a former chairperson of the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL) and editor of the magazine Sister Namibia, said the advances in South Africa and Namibia had a lot to do with the spirit of democratisation that swept through these countries from the late 1980s onwards.
“South Africa, where the rights of all people are protected in the Constitution, undoubtedly sparked change which is influencing the rest of Africa,” Frank said. This is especially visible in the proliferation of civil society groups that are organising around lesbian and gay issues. One example is the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL), led by South African Fikile Vilakazi. It represents 13 organisations in 11 African countries. The CAL does feminist research, analysis and documentation. It also lobbies for women’s rights at local and national level. According to Frank, “South Africa is more than an example to the rest of the continent. The many activists and organisations who have struggled so hard for sexual minority rights have been a resource to us. People have been assisting us in Namibia with strategic planning, organisational development, lobbying and advocacy.
“They have helped us to break the silence and respond to hate speech. Through this we have begun to build the African LGBT movement.” While civil society is organising to claim human rights for LGBT people, politicians still enjoy playing the homophobic card when it suits them. “It usually happens when the government faces some kind of crisis that they want to cover up,” Swartz said. “After homophobic statements have been made in public by church or political leaders, one can feel that a few steps backwards are being taken. We then usually see an increase in verbal and physical attacks against the LGBT population,” he continued. “Some political and church leaders are fond of denouncing gays and lesbians as ‘causing’ moral decay. But the fact is that some of these leaders are the very people who promote aggression and discrimination.” — IPS
April 29, 2007 – indiaenews.com
Homosexuals come out in Kenya
From correspondents in Nairobi, Kenya
Luzau Basambombo spent six months in a Kinshasa prison, abused over and over again. The Congolese human rights activist suspects that he was put behind bars because he openly admitted being homosexual. ‘If you are gay in Congo, you become an outlaw,’ he says. After being released from prison, he left Congo for Uganda where he was granted asylum. ‘When the authorities found out that I was gay, I was asked to leave the country,’ he says. Today, the 38-year-old Congolese lives in Nairobi and he feels comfortable there. ‘Things are changing here in Kenya – in favour of us.’
Gays and Lesbians are prosecuted in most African countries. In some Nigerian federal states, where the Muslim sharia law is in force, homosexuals are stoned to death. Changes to the law are planned, after which even people who only talk about homosexuality can be sent to prison. In Zimbabwe, head of state Robert Mugabe compared gays to pigs and dogs. Namibian police are instructed to arrest homosexuals and expel them from the country. South Africa is the only country on the continent that has legalized same-sex marriages. In Kenya, homosexuality between men is legally prohibited as well. Homosexual relationships between women are not mentioned. Statutes that date from the colonial period provide for prison sentences of up to 14 years.
‘Despite that, nobody gets imprisoned in Kenya just because he is homosexual,’ says Angus Parkinson of Liverpool VCT, a support centre in Nairobi (http://liverpoolvct.org/msm.htm). ‘Kenya is heading in a different direction from its neighbours.’ The second public gay party is going to take place in Nairobi in May, the first one being celebrated in January during the World Social Forum, with Kenyan gay groups going public for the first time. ‘Five years ago, under the rule of president Daniel Arap Moi, this would have been unthinkable,’ says Jeremy Mirie of the gay, lesbian, bi and transsexual lobby Galebitra.
At present, there are eight organizations, which are campaigning for the legalization of homosexuality and which give advice to gays and lesbians, for instance informing them about AIDS and HIV. The state HIV/AIDS campaign has explicitly addressed homosexuals since last year. US TV series with openly gay main characters such as Will and Grace are now shown on television. ‘The more people talk about us, the more normal it gets,’ Mirie hopes. However, there can be no talk of a visible gay community in Kenya. There are neither bars nor clubs hoisting the rainbow flag.
Charles Mwangi almost whispers when talking about his coming-out in a Nairobi bar as the publican is said to have banned homosexuals. ‘Two weeks ago, I had four beers before telling my parents I was gay’, Mwangi says. ‘My father sent me flying out of the house straight away.’ Mwangi comes from Muranga, a small town about 60 kilometres north of Nairobi. ‘It will take 100 years until a father there accepts that his son is gay,’ he says.
June 11, 2007 – From the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Kenya: Human Rights Commissioner Confronts Homophobic Statements by Council of Imams in Mombasa
Recently the Council of Imams and Preachers of Coastal Kenya, along with Muslim youth groups, have launched a campaign to eradicate homosexuality and prostitution from Kenya’s second city, Mombasa. The groups claim that homosexuality and immorality are on the rise in Kenya. Lawrence Mute of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has taken a brave and progressive stand against hate speech. His statement, issued to Kenya media, is reprinted below.
“The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is always deeply concerned when those in positions of authority and responsibility make comments that might be understood as some in the community to be a call to violence against another community or group of people – in his case homosexual people. Whilst the law in Kenya criminalizes homosexual acts between men, the law does not criminalize a community or an individual because of his or her sexual or gender identity.
KNCHR calls upon the government to ensure that this situation does not become a witch hunt of people whose rights are protected like any other Kenyan citizen. Whilst the KNCHR recognizes and respects the rights of religious institutions and individuals to hold their opinions; these opinions must not be allowed to victimize or place at risk any other community or individual.”
September 1, 2007 – Jamaica Gleaner Online
Behind the gay issue
by Mark Dawes, Staff Reporter
A group of Anglican church bishops gather around Rev. William Atwood and Rev. William Murdoch during a consecrated ceremony by Kenyan Archbishop of the Anglican Church, Reverend Benjamin Nzimbi (centre), at the All Saints Cathedral Church in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Thursday. – Reuters
On Thursday, two American Episcopal clergymen were consecrated to the office of bishop by the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, archbishop of Kenya. This sacred rite was conducted in Kenyan capital Nairobi and was attended by several Anglican bishops from Africa. The two American clergymen, Rev. William Leo Murdoch and Rev. William Atwood, form part of the conservative wing of the Episcopal church in the United States (ECUSa), that strongly opposes the homosexual lifestyle, gay marriages and the 2003 consecration of the openly homosexual and non-celibate Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire. Last year the Truro Church and the Falls Church – both located in northern Virginia voted to bring themselves under the authority of Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, who leads 37 million Anglicans as chair of the Anglican Church in Africa.
Fifteen of the 29 provinces that make up the Anglican Communion globally have already severed relationship with the Episcopal Church of the United States. Conservative Anglican congregations in America are increasingly frustrated by that province’s failure to emphatically distance itself from the gay lobby within the church. Some of these congregations ar themselves to Anglican bishops in Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and other African dioceses. Archbishop Peter Akinola, being the leader of the largest Anglican diocese is seen by many in the church as a natural replacement for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams.
Response of the US church
At the centre of this tension within the global Anglican communion is the response of the U.S. church to conform to the recommendations of the Windsor Report which was published in October 2004. In the wake of the consecration of Gene Robinson, the Archbishop of Canterbury established the Lambeth Commission on Communion to look at what the Scriptures teach concerning homosexuality and what it means to be an Anglican. The Lambeth Commission, included bishops from all provinces of the global church, speaking about the Windsor Report in an interview with this reporter published June 4, 2005, the Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, a member of the Lambeth Commission, said
“We concluded on the basis of who we are and on the basis of our own Anglican self-understanding that the actions of the Church in the United States and the Church in Canada have departed from the Anglican way of doing church. We said it (homosexual behaviour) is not only un-Anglican but contrary to Scripture. In that context, we called on the churches involved to express ‘regret’. The language was chosen deliberately. Some of us wanted to put ‘repent.’ But we felt, let us put it in the language that is the lowest common denominator to get a response. To express regret and say you won’t do it again is very close to what the New Testament calls repentance. We felt that if we went that way, we had a far better chance of evoking a response as opposed to just coming up to them and saying repent. We asked them to have a moratorium – not to do it again. And to explain the theological reasons why they acted that way.”
The 2.3-million member Episcopal Church in the United States, which is led by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, convened the general convention in June of 2006 but did not fulfil the wishes of the Windsor Report. Canon Dr. Chris Sugden was among those in attendance in Ohio when the Episcopal Church in the United States responded to the Windsor Report. Canon Sugden, who is the executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, a network of orthodox Anglicans was in the island earlier this week on a short visit.
Creating a middle ground
According to Sugden, “Bishop Peter Lee of Diocese of Virginia an effort to create a kind of middle ground that would satisfy the pro-homosexual lobby and the orthodox Anglicans. “First, people were saying that there are 15 per cent of the Anglicans who are the activists for gay inclusion. Second, there are 15 per cent who are biblically convinced that while people with gay orientation are welcomed like anybody else, there can be no gay practice. And third, there were 70 per cent in the middle who are saying that there is a plague on both your houses – we want to get on being Christians and will that 70 per cent please stand and be counted.
“Bishop Peter Lee was arguing that the average person in the pew just wanted to get on, so let’s have something that accepts the Windsor Report with certain caveats. But there was a very strong opposition to that. Peter Lee’s argument was we can do nothing and we should do nothing that gives any signal to our active gay and lesbian members that they are anything else but fully members of this church and fully open to all the senior positions in the church – priests, bishops. Therefore, any agreement you come to with the rest of the Anglican communion, should not be at price these people who we fully accept with all their gay practices as being perfectly acceptable members of the Anglican community.”
But, Bishop Lee’s argument, Canon Sugden said, was crushed because that sort of middle of the way view – was acceptable to neither the gay lobby nor the conservative lobby. So the idea of a solid middle ground collapsed. Following the general convention of the Episcopal church in the United States, the Archbishop of Canterbury created a panel to consider the way forward. The panel drew from the Primates Committee and the Anglican Consultative Council. This group met in September 2006 but they kept their report secretive until a meeting with all primates in Tanzania last February. The report delivered at the Tanzania meeting by the Archbishop of Canterbury was that the Episcopal Church in America had, as their polity allowed, substantially met the recommendations of the Windsor Report.
Rejecting clerics position
Canon Sugden reported that Archbishop Gomez rejected the Canterbury clerics position, arguing that panel’s report was unacceptable and was not an accurate or fair representation of the positions of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The primates gave the Episcopal Church seven months to clarify their reaction to the Windsor Report. That seven month expires on September 30. Canon Sugden said it seems the mood of the primates is that gay issues have rocked the Anglican Church long enough and it was time to forge ahead. He cited the response of Archbishop Akinola in a recent speech to the House of Bishops, who said that the matter has dragged on long enough and there can be no semantic appeasing of the various factions in the church. Hence, Akinola stressed, the time had come for the church to choose.
Canon reported too that Archbishop Gomez, has said twice in recent times “that we can no longer have the assurance that the Episcopal Church in the United States is in continuity with the faith once delivered to the saints.” That Canon Sugden conceded is “very strong language for him”. Though public gay scandals have been rocking the church since 2003, there has hardly been even a feeble mumble out of the Archbishop of Canterbury in defence of the orthodox position in the United States.
Among his critics is, Robert William Duncan Jr., the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. At present, on the Anglican Mainstream website (www.anglican-mainstream.net), there is an article penned by Bishop Duncan which decries the leadership of Rowan Williams on thematter. The article, published in July states: “Never, ever has he (the Archbishop of Canterbury) spoken publicly in defence of the orthodox in the United States,” adding that “the cost is his office”. “To lose that historic office is a cost of such magnitude that God must be doing a new thing,” he said.
“In other words, since the Archbishop of Canterbury has not provided for the safe oversight of the orthodox in the United States, he has forfeited his role as the one who gathers the Communion. This has become further obvious with the refusal of the invitation to the Lambeth Conference by the leaders of over half the Anglicans in the world and the questioning by some English bishops as to whether they will attend”.
Schism or a revolution?
” So are we seeing a schism or a revolution? A long overdue development is taking place, namely that significant and meaningful leadership is now being given in the Anglican Communion by Christians from Africa and Asia. This is being expressed in the very practical issues of first determining to stand by the teaching of the Communion; second, refusing to attend a dumbed-down Lambeth Conference which will not address this issue decisively and which will include those who have deliberately defied that teaching; and third, by providing the orthodox oversight that orthodox Anglicans are requesting. The world waits to see how the Episcopal Church will respond as its deadline of September 30 fast approaches. Meantime, the Episcopal diocese of Chicago on Tuesday included a lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop.
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26 September 2007 – BBC News
Gay bishop move rejected by Kenya
The head of Kenya’s Anglican Church has rejected a compromise over gay bishops by US Episcopal Church leaders. They have said they will halt the ordination of gay bishops and public blessings of same-sex relationships to prevent a split in the Anglican Church. “That word ‘halt’ is not enough,” said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi. Many African Anglicans threatened to leave the worldwide Anglican Communion after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop four years ago.
The American Church was told to meet the conditions by 30 September or lose membership of the communion. US bishops made the decision after a six-day meeting in New Orleans. The meeting was attended in part by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who urged the Episcopal Church to make concessions for the sake of unity.
Last month, Archbishop Nzimbi presided over the consecration of two US bishops, Bill Murdoch and Bill Atwood, who left the US branch of the Anglican Church – the Episcopal Church – after it consecrated an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003. The Kenyan archbishop said the US church leaders’ comments did not go far enough. “What we expected to come from them is to repent – that this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” he said.
Correspondents say it was hoped the agreement would help defuse the crisis. But Assistant Bishop of Kampala, Ugandan David Zac Niringiye, says it was “not a change of heart” and showed the church was already split. “What this situation has brought to the fore is the malaise – something much deeper – that the entire communion has not dealt with and the consecration of Bishop Gene really brought to the surface something that was there,” he told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme. It is not the same church because it’s broken on very fundamental lines.”
Traditionalists in the US are already making plans to set up their own independent church. Conservative churchgoers believe homosexuality is contrary to the Church’s teachings. However, liberal Anglicans have argued that biblical teachings on justice and inclusion should take precedence. The Episcopal bishops did reaffirm their commitment to the civil rights of gay people and said they opposed any violence towards them or violation of their dignity. The meeting in New Orleans follows a summit of Anglican leaders in Tanzania earlier in the year which gave the US Episcopal Church a deadline of 30 September to define its position on the issue. The leaders threatened that a failure to do so would leave their relationship with the US branch of Anglicanism “damaged at best”.
November 30, 2007 – Reuters
Older white women join Kenya’s sex tourists
by Jeremy Clarke, Mombasa, Kenya
Bethan, 56, lives in southern England on the same street as best friend Allie, 64. They are on their first holiday to Kenya, a country they say is “just full of big young boys who like us older girls.” Hard figures are difficult to come by, but local people on the coast estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex. Allie and Bethan — who both declined to give their full names — said they planned to spend a whole month touring Kenya’s palm-fringed beaches. They would do well to avoid the country’s tourism officials.
“It’s not evil,” said Jake Grieves-Cook, chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board, when asked about the practice of older rich women traveling for sex with young Kenyan men. “But it’s certainly something we frown upon.”
Also, the health risks are stark in a country with an AIDS prevalence of 6.9 percent. Although condom use can only be guessed at, Julia Davidson, an academic at Nottingham University who writes on sex tourism, said that in the course of her research she had met women who shunned condoms — finding them too “businesslike” for their exotic fantasies. The white beaches of the Indian Ocean coast stretched before the friends as they both walked arm-in-arm with young African men, Allie resting her white haired-head on the shoulder of her companion, a six-foot-four 23-year-old from the Maasai tribe. He wore new sunglasses he said were a gift from her.n “We both get something we want — where’s the negative?” Allie asked in a bar later, nursing a strong, golden cocktail.
She was still wearing her bikini top, having just pulled on a pair of jeans and a necklace of traditional African beads. Bethan sipped the same local drink: a powerful mix of honey, fresh limes and vodka known locally as “Dawa,” or “medicine.” She kept one eye on her date — a 20-year-old playing pool, a red bandana tying back dreadlocks and new-looking sports shoes on his feet. He looked up and came to join her at the table, kissing her, then collecting more coins for the pool game.
Grieves-Cook and many hotel managers say they are doing all they can to discourage the practice of older women picking up local boys, arguing it is far from the type of tourism they want to encourage in the east African nation. “The head of a local hoteliers’
association told me they have begun taking measures — like refusing guests who want to change from a single to a double room,” Grieves-Cook said.
“It’s about trying to make those guests feel as uncomfortable as possible … But it’s a fine line. We are 100 percent against anything illegal, such as prostitution. But it’s different with something like this — it’s just unwholesome.” These same beaches have long been notorious for attracting another type of sex tourists — those who abuse children. As many as 15,000 girls in four coastal districts — about a third of all 12-18 year-olds girls there — are involved in casual sex for cash, a joint study by Kenya’s government and U.N. children’s charity UNICEF reported late last year. Up to 3,000 more girls and boys are in full-time sex work, it said, some paid for the “most horrific and abnormal acts.”
Preying on Poverty?
Emerging alongside this black market trade — and obvious in the bars and on the sand once the sun goes down — are thousands of elderly white women hoping for romantic, and legal, encounters with much younger Kenyan men. They go dining at fine restaurants, then dancing, and back to expensive hotel rooms overlooking the coast. “One type of sex tourist attracted the other,” said one manager at a shorefront bar on Mombasa’s Bamburi beach.
“Old white guys have always come for the younger girls and boys, preying on their poverty … But these old women followed … they never push the legal age limits, they seem happy just doing what is sneered at in their countries.” Experts say some thrive on the social status and financial power that comes from taking much poorer, younger lovers. “This is what is sold to tourists by tourism companies — a kind of return to a colonial past, where white women are served, serviced, and pampered by black minions,” said Nottinghan University’s Davidson.
Live Like the Rich
Many of the visitors are on the lookout for men like Joseph. Flashing a dazzling smile and built like an Olympic basketball star, the 22-year-old said he has slept with more than 100 white women, most of them 30 years his senior. “When I go into the clubs, those are the only women I look for now,” he told Reuters. “I get to live like the rich mzungus (white people) who come here from rich countries, staying in the best hotels and just having my fun.” At one club, a group of about 25 dancing men — most of them Joseph look-alikes — edge closer and closer to a crowd of more than a dozen white women, all in their autumn years. “It’s not love, obviously. I didn’t come here looking for a husband,” Bethan said over a pounding beat from the speakers.
“It’s a social arrangement. I buy him a nice shirt and we go out for dinner. For as long as he stays with me he doesn’t pay for anything, and I get what I want — a good time. How is that different from a man buying a young girl dinner?”
(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sara Ledwith)
December 21, 2007 – Newsday.com/Associated Press
Kenya Clashes Threatening Election
by Elizabeth A. Kennedy, A.P.Writer
Nairobi, Kenya – Clashes over land that have killed hundreds of people and other deadly violence are endangering next week’s general election, which is shaping up to be the closest in Kenya’s history, officials said Friday. The European Union’s chief election monitor in Kenya condemned the violence in the western part of the country, where tribal clashes have been raging all year. Aid workers and activists say the conflict has been fanned by politicians seeking votes in the Dec. 27 election.
“We have noted with concern the level of violence that has taken place during the electoral process particularly in Kuresoi and Mount Elgon,” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, chief EU election monitor, said on a trip to hotspots around the nation. Aside from the land clashes, there have been 58 bouts of electoral violence this year, including 24 murders, said police spokesman Eric Kiraithe. Eighty people have been arrested in connection with the attacks. In the latest unrest, two carloads of supporters from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement stoned the rally of a rival parliamentary candidate in Ugenya, western Kenya. The crowd set both vehicles on fire, killing one of the drivers, Kiraithe said. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga, a former Cabinet minister, leads President Mwai Kibaki slightly in opinion polls. Another former Cabinet minister, Kalonzo Musyoka, is a distant third.
Clashes have broken out every election year since 1992. The Kenya Human Rights Commission says local politicians are known to instigate violence to displace supporters of their opponents so that they do not vote. About 300 people have died, and 60,000 have fled their homes in the western Mount Elgon region. In the fertile Kuresoi region in Kenya’s central Rift Valley province, several dozen have died and many women been raped in fighting among local communities backed by rival politicians seeking to claim land for their groups. About 10,000 people have fled Kuresoi to the central town of Molo, where residents complained bitterly about the government’s failure to protect them from politically sponsored violence.
“This displacement happens every five years, every election,” said Pastor George Kariuki, head of the Molo Baptist Church, which is helping coordinate food distributions. “We don’t have enough food.” Behind him, men, women and children lined up to register for a sack of maize, a carton of milk and some cooking oil. “If the government cannot stop the violence on the ground, they should delay the vote,” said one of the displaced, Peter Ngogi.
An outlawed gang called Mungiki, blamed in a string of beheadings, also has terrorized parts of Kenya. Mungiki members have threatened to disrupt the elections and circulated leaflets in July calling on Kenyan youth to rise up against the government. U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger also voiced concerns over the violence. “We call on all politicians and government officials to publicly denounce all forms of violence, ethnic incitement and electoral malpractice,” Ranneberger said at his residence in the Kenyan capital.
Associated Press writer Tom Odula contributed to this report.
27th February 2008 – PinkNews
African lesbian conference demands equal rights
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Lesbians from across Africa have held a conference in Mozambique to highlight the homophobia and prejudice they face across the continent. Most nations in Africa criminalise same-sex relationships and in some countries gay people can be put to death. The Coalition of African Lesbians conference was attended by more than 100 delegates.
Women from 14 African countries gathered in Namibia’s capital Windhoek in August 2004 to develop the Coalition of African Lesbians. Lesbian organisations and a number of individual women from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia are members of the organisation. “Our main goal is that lesbian and homosexuality can no longer be seen as a criminal offence,” the group’s director and conference spokeswoman Fikile Vilakazi told Reuters. “You should not be arrested and charged for how you use your own body.”
The coalition lobbies for political, legal social, sexual, cultural and economic rights of African lesbians by engaging strategically with African and international structures and allies and to eradicate stigma and discrimination against lesbians. South Africa, one of the few countries on the continent where gay men and lesbians are allowed to marry and legally protected from discrimination, has been rocked by several murders of prominent lesbian activists.
Sizakele Sigasa, 34, an activist for HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights, and Salome Masooa, 24, were discovered dead at field in Soweto, Johannesburg, on July 8th. They had both been shot and, it is suspected, raped. On 22nd July Thokozane Qwabe, 23, was found in a field in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal with multiple head wounds. She was naked and it is thought she was also raped.
March 30, 2008 – From: Pouline Kimani, Coordinator of GLACK
Gay Kenya: Profile of Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
(Nairobi, Kenyal) – The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) was formed in 2006. This was following a regional convening of LGBTI activists in East Africa. The convening was done in Nairobi and it was held after a research was done on LGBTI organizing in East Africa. GALCK was formed on the initiative of its member organizations, who saw the need of coming together to better achieve their objectives.
GALCK comprises four active organizations: Gay Kenya, ISHTAR MSM, Minority Women in Action (MWA), and The Other Men in Kenya (TOMIK). MWA is the only exclusively lbti women’s organization.
The vision of GALCK is to create a safe and enabling environment for LGBTI individuals and organizations in Kenya. The mission is to promote the recognition, acceptance and defend the interests and rights of LGBTI individuals and organizations in Kenya.
GALCK’s first public appearance was at the World Aids Day. This was on 1st December, 2006. GALCK had a stand at which its members gave information on safer sex for LGBTI individuals. The members also answered questions from the public on LGBTI issues. The stand was very popular with people swarming to ask questions and express astonishment at the public declaration and identification of Kenyans as LGBTI individuals. They were even more surprised to learn that there are LGBTI organizations in Kenya. However, there was absolutely no media coverage on the matter.
GALCK’s next public appearance was at the World Social Forum held in January 2007 in Nairobi. GALCK organized a tent called the Q-spot where LGBTI activists from all over Africa converged to air LGBTI issues and hold workshops. The Q-spot was the most popular event at the Forum as it had more visitors than any other tent. Many people came to ask questions on LGBTI activism and rights. And many more came to ask questions on the lives and experiences of LGBTI individuals in Kenya.
The responses from the visitors were both negative and positive. Some argued that homosexuality is a sin or ungodly or unnatural. In fact, many people came to the tent with very negative views on homosexuality. However, many of them left with changed attitudes on sexual minorities. Many of the myths around LGBTI individuals were challenged and a human face put to homosexuality.
There was also a response from the religious leaders and the media, as well as self-proclaimed social experts. The Council of Imams called for the government to arrest the LGBTI activists at the World Social Forum. They argued that to allow such activities would be to encourage homosexuality, which they viewed as against all religions, immoral, unnatural and un-African. The Christian religious leaders also protested that homosexuality would destroy the sanctity of the family. A sociologist was also quoted as comparing homosexuality with bestiality. Another sociologist compared homosexuality to pedophilia.
However, GALCK’s presence and activities at the World Social Forum were on the whole very successful. GALCK was able to network with human rights and other organizations and individuals present who would be willing to work with or support GALCK in achieving its objectives. In addition, the existence of LGBTI individuals and organizations in Kenya, as well as LGBTI rights became a part of public discourse. This is important in sensitizing Kenyan society on LGBTI rights.
GALCK has also achieved the recognition of MSM and WSW by the National Aids Control Council, and inclusion of Men who have Sex with Men in the national strategic plan from 2007. GALCK presently is also working with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission on a plan to mainstream LGBTI rights. In addition, GALCK has been represented by volunteers at various local, regional and international conferences and has membership with the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA). One of the members of GALCK’s Steering Committee is also on the Board of Pan-Africa ILGA.
Way forward for GALCK
GALCK is presently working on a project to open an LGBTI community centre which will house offices for the Coalition. It will be a safe space for LGBTI individuals to meet and share their experiences. LGBTI-friendly counselling services will be provided within that space as well as Voluntary Counselling and Testing facilities.
GALCK is also forming networks and working with various mainstream human rights and public health organizations in the struggle for the attainment of human rights of LGBTI individuals in Kenya. The provision of accurate information on LGBTI health and rights to sexual minorities as well as the society at large is a gap that needs to be filled. It will be achieved by building alliances with LGBTI rights, human rights, women’s rights and Public health organizations.
The Coalition aims to eliminate homophobia and all forms of discrimination against LGBTI individuals. This will be achieved partly by creating awareness in society about the rights of sexual minorities as well as actively lobbying for the protection of those rights. Pamphlets and other documentation will be issued to individuals, institutions and government to provide the information necessary to combat the ignorance that fuels homophobia and discrimination.
Lack of public discourse on sexuality in general makes LGBTI issues almost impossible to discuss. General public ignorance of issues around sexual minorities their existence and violation of their rights inhibits their public acceptance.
To improve or assist on the development of sexual rights for all individuals public recognition of LGBTI issues will require a more open education and media discussion on sexuality in general ,one that does not stigmatize or sensationalize sexual diversity .
Mainstreaming LGBTI rights in the fundamental fights for all human rights within the women’s rights HIV AIDS and human rights organizations will extensively make it easier to create arenas for the lobbying of the sexual rights.
Emphasis should be put on empowering all the minorities within the larger society on their basic rights including their sexual and reproductive rights in a positive way.
The women’s rights and feminist organizations have in the past shied away from addressing the rights of LBTI women. A complete overhaul is required of the mistaken idea that the human rights of heterosexual individuals are more important than those of LGBTI individuals. Any legitimate human rights activist must be ready to engage others and struggle for the attainment of rights for sexual and other minorities.
i have extracted this from my paper as i am just getting better and also starting my internship with kenya human rights commission so i am swamped and would not like to further delay you. i am very comfortable with using a picture of me and victor, please forgive me for the inconvinience i have caused you and if it is possible i will write to you a more recent update with time which you can just upload to the link if you work like that.
April 6, 2008 – The New York Times
Displaced Kenyans Live in Limbo as Aid Lags After Election Strife
by Jeffrey Gettleman
Nairobi, Kenya – Clinton Masheti, 8 years old and all alone, sits on a wooden bench rolling snakes out of clay. When the men came and started burning down houses in his village, his parents ran away — without him. He now lives in the Nairobi Children’s Home, a place with cheery paintings on the wall and lots of blank little faces. He is among thousands of children lost or abandoned during the fighting that followed Kenya’s disputed election in December. If Clinton’s parents are not found by August, he will be put up for adoption. “My father was a farmer,” he said. That seemed to be all he knew.
In another part of town not far away, Jane Wanjiru has been living in muddy uncertainty since January. She and about 200 other displaced people are camping just up the road from one of Nairobi’s fanciest malls. Their tents and clotheslines are curious sights so close to the Mercedes-Benzes and mansions, a reminder in case anyone here needs one that the issue of displaced people is not isolated to the Rift Valley, where most of the election-related bloodshed was, but has crept into the capital, Nairobi. Still, very little has been done about it. More than 300,000 people remain homeless, living in camps or staying temporarily with relatives, but top politicians have been preoccupied with haggling over cabinet posts and forming a coalition government.
Officials recently announced that the new government would include 40 ministries, a Kenyan record, and many people fear that the money for salaries, cars and staff for the bloated cabinet will eat into what the displaced people need. Donors have pledged millions of dollars to build homes and resettle people, but most of that is in limbo. And now it is the rainy season. Nearly every day, the skies crack open and the water gushes down. Tents collapse, latrines overflow, firewood gets soggy, food goes uncooked and diseases like malaria and the flu flourish. Many of the displaced people are farmers, and the same rains they would have prayed for, had they not been violently driven off their land, are now a curse.
Three women in a camp recently died from exposure to the cold and 5-month-old twins from pneumonia. “The rains are my biggest fear,” said Naomi Shaban, Kenya’s minister of special programs, who oversees the displaced persons camps. “These people are living in tents, and these are not just showers, they are heavy rains. There is a lot of contamination, with children playing in the water. We anticipate health problems.” Many displaced people in this nation of 37 million are worried about how long they can survive and feel abandoned by their government. Ms. Wanjiru, who voted for Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, said she did not support him — or any other politician — anymore.
“All we get are words,” she said. She spends her days washing the few clothes she has and sitting in a cracked plastic chair watching the cars go by. A mother of six with a seventh on the way, she said she did not even have the bus fare to go into town or check out the mall. “I lost everything,” she said. Ms. Shaban defended the president, saying he was very concerned about the plight of the displaced people and that helping them is a post-election priority. She said the government had already spent $11 million on food and medicine since January, though the distribution of supplies was sometimes delayed, because some of the people hanging around the displaced persons camps were “impostors” and it took time to verify who the real victims were.
The Kenyan government is asking donor nations, including the United States, to provide nearly $500 million to resettle people and rebuild the tens of thousands of burned down homes, businesses, public utilities and schools. After the disputed election, supporters of the government and of the leading opposition party raged against each other. More than 1,000 people were killed, many quite brutally, and much of the fighting was along ethnic lines. Ms. Shaban, like many other government officials, insisted that most of the displaced people would eventually go home. “As the healing process goes on, more and more want to go back,” she said.
But many people are scared. Hundreds of thousands have already resettled in areas where their ethnic group dominates, because that is seen as the only way to guarantee safety. Just a few days ago, in late March, leaflets were circulated in several Rift Valley towns telling Kikuyus, Mr. Kibaki’s ethnic group, that if they returned, they would be killed. “People are still bitter,” said Florence Muia, a Catholic nun who works with displaced people. “They have seen this violence before, and this time they are saying never again.”
Many of the displaced children, traumatized into near silence, simply have nothing to return to. Naomi and Joseph Nganga were abandoned by their father after a mob burned down their house in the Rift Valley and their mother died from a stomach sickness in a displaced persons camp. They are sister and brother, 9 and 10 years old, and live in the children’s home with about 80 others, including: Clinton, who speaks in whispers; a 3-year-old whom workers call Baby Joshua because they do not have any more information about him; and a cheerful 16-year-old named Millicent who has a baby of her own. The boys wear V-neck sweaters and the girls plaid dresses. They play in bare concrete rooms and drink plastic mugs of tea for a snack.
When asked if he wanted to stay in the children’s home in Nairobi or go back to his village, Joseph’s voice dropped to a mumble. “I just want to go to school,” he said. His sister nodded next to him and then looked down at her cracked leather shoes.
May 13, 2008 – The Times
Kenya in bid to stem jail sodomy
Nairobi – Kenyan authorities have commissioned a study in a bid to stem widespread homosexual practices in the country’s crowded prisons, a top health official said, the Standard daily reported today. “There is a lot of homosexuality in our prisons and we can no longer pretend that it does not exist,” the newspaper quoted John Kibosia, the head of health services in prisons, as saying. Kobosia said the government had commissioned a research firm, Liverpool VCT, to investigate homosexuality in the country’s 89 penal institutions and three youth correctional centres so the authorities can stem the outlawed practice. “We want to know why the vice is so rampant in our prisons and see how we can get rid of it,” he added.
VCT is a Kenya-based organisation that undertakes research contracts into the country’s policy on HIV-Aids and other sexually transmittable diseases. Currently, 48,000 inmates are squeezed into spaces designed for 15,000 in the 89 penal facilities, where skin ailments, Aids, tuberculosis and malaria are common. Last year, the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights blamed ill health for the death of at least 720 inmates in prisons annually.
June 04, 2008 – Allafrica.com
Kenyan Health Ministry Launches HIV, TB Communication Campaign
The East African on Monday examined how a campaign recently launched in Kenya to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis will affect health care workers in the country. The Kenyan Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National AIDS Control Council and CDC launched the campaign to bolster communication and awareness of HIV/AIDS and TB to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with the diseases. The multitiered program, which was launched last month, encourages health workers to be tested for HIV and to learn about the link between HIV and TB. The program also will provide treatment for health workers who are living with HIV or TB. Under the program, HIV-positive health workers will encourage colleagues to be tested for HIV and TB and to seek treatment. The program was launched at selected clinics in Nairobi and Nyanza, the two provinces with the highest rates of TB and HIV/AIDS in the country.
James Nyikal, permanent secretary of public health and sanitation, said the program aims to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and TB. Nyikal said that many health workers in the country do not know their HIV status, which has hindered the government’s efforts to reduce HIV-associated stigma and provide adequate health care at public clinics. According to Nyikal, health workers who know their HIV status will be able to provide better care for patients. “The way patients are treated by health workers determines whether they would accept testing or adhere to treatment, and this requires that health workers lead by example,” he said. Nyikal added that health workers should be regularly tested for HIV and TB. “There is still a great challenge in fighting stigma and discrimination among [health workers] who are infected with HIV/AIDS,” he said, adding health workers should “overcome” the stigma.
Nelly Muga — an HIV-positive health worker in Machakos, Kenya — said that some health workers living with HIV or TB have “misplaced professional pride” and believe it is “shameful for a medical practitioner to confess to being HIV-positive.” Many health workers do not receive HIV or TB tests even when they have symptoms of the diseases, which has led to unnecessary deaths, Muga added (Ayieko, East African, 6/1).
19 June 2008 – africasciencenews.org
Ignorance and stigma surrounding men who have sex with men and male sex workers
by Joanne Ellul
Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya under the Penal Code, Section 162 and as a result there is ignorance and stigma surrounding men who have sex with men (MSMs) and male sex workers (MSWs). This has resulted in the lack of prevention, care and management in HIV programmes. A 2002 study conducted by the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH) and the Population Council indicated that Male Sex Workers (MSW) existed in Mombasa and the surrounding areas. The study defined the MSW as “any man who regularly receives money or gift in exchange for sex with other men”. An MSM, in contrast, is just a man who has sex with a man and refers to the act itself. Agnes Rinyiru, part of the IRCH, claimed that MSW in Kenya were increasing in numbers and in visibility, where MSWs identified themselves. The study estimated that there were more than 771 male sex workers in Mombasa alone. Rinyiru reported that unlike in countries where homosexuality is legalized, in Kenya, those with this sexual orientation have to have both male and female partners to avoid contravening Kenyan laws. They are at an increased risk of transmitting or getting infected with HIV or STIs.
Peter Njoroge, the Director of ISHTAR –MSM, based in Nairobi in Kenya, explained that Voluntary and Counselling and Testing centres do not reach out to MSM, where if you tell them you are a homosexual you are likely to not get seen. He criticised that if you tell a receptionist at a VCT that you are an MSM, then all the healthcare providers will come out to look at you. This explains MSMs’ fear of stigmatization if they reveal their sexuality, which results them self- medicating, Rinyiru and Njoroge explained. Rinyiru explained that this led to HIV prevalence. Njoroge added that it also lead MSMs to fabricate stories to the doctors, which resulted in incorrect medication being prescribed. He gave the example of one MSM, who had contracted gonorrhoea around the anal area, explaining to his doctor he caught it from water splashing in that area after he had been to the toilet.
This fear also plagues their private lives too, as Njoroge explained that “people have committed suicide in fear of revealing their sexuality or due to the reaction from their parents. Some sons are even kicked out of their own homes,” as a result of the stigma of immorality that is attached to homosexuality in Christian Kenya. Rinyiru identified the “lack of prevention and care programs directed at men having sex with men.” There is clearly ignorance and avoidance of approaching MSMs needs in society. Njoroge added that healthcare providers are not trained to provide services to MSM and unaware of the sexual health and HIV needs they have. He added, “there are no appropriate and sensitive counselling services and HIV and sexual health campaigns only talk about vaginal sex as route of transmission.”
This clearly took its toll, where there was a low risk perception of HIV/STI and a poor knowledge base of HIV/AIDS, Rinyiru reported. Consequently, unprotected anal sex in MSW ensued, as “people do not even know that anal sex can transmit HIV. Anal sex is more damaging than vaginal sex,” Rinyiru explained. Njoroge explained, “Water-based lubricants are not readily available, as they are too expensive. Vaseline or lotions are being used, which can lead to tearing of a condom and consequently a higher HIV prevalence.” Rinyiru identified this problem in her study, where “MSWs had little knowledge about water-based lubricants.”
This ignorance about male to male sex accounted for the high prevalence of HIV in MSMs, where Njugore reported that a study found that 47% of MSMs were HIV positive. Runyiri added that “STI infections were common in MSMs,” she added. Therefore, access to information and resources relating to MSMs should be on the agenda, Njugore encouraged. Consequently, Njoroge called on the need for “MSM to be integrated into the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS.” He stated that there was a dire need to “create more awareness among MSM on HIV/AIDS.” Similarly, the findings from the ICHR study “generated rationale for implementing a program to address HIV/AIDS and sexual health needs of men who sell sex to men in Mombasa,” Rinyiru explained. The intervention strategies, as a result of the study, were to enhance health seeking behavior among MSM.
The ICHR wanted to reduce obstacles to obtaining treatment and counseling for STIs and HIV through capacity building health personnel, who would offer MSM friendly health care services with an emphasis on counselling and testing for HIV and STI treatment. On-site MSM friendly counselling and testing for HIV and STI screening and treatment at drop-in centre were created. These served as triaging centers for referring sex workers to clinic based services. Rinyiru explained that they were a “safe space” to discuss personal issues.” These centres were a distribution point for condoms, where peer educators could give them to their peers. PEs also distributed over 12,000 sachets of water-based lubricant (Assegai) through the program. However, the effects are still in their infancy, where only 6 peer educators have been trained as VCT counsellors and are providing VCT counselling services at the drop-in centres and other Ministry Of Health (MoH) health facilities.
Six more MSW have been trained as VCT counsellors in Malindi and Kwale. 20 health providers were trained on MSM specific STI related needs, including anal and oral STIs. They were sensitized to offer MSW-friendly services. Namely, services that were non-judgmental, supportive and sensitive to MSM needs.
July 2,2008 – The Standard
Bishop threatens to quit church on gay marriages
by Anderson Ojwang’ And Jessicah Nyaboke
An Anglican bishop has threatened to quit the church over gay marriages. The Reverend Thomas Kogo, a bishop at the Eldoret ACK Diocese, has issued the quit notice, saying he could not support a church that condones homosexuality. Kogo, who has just returned from a pilgrimage in Israel, said the faithful must uphold the sanctity of the Anglican family. He said those advocating for gay marriages were driven by desire for money and wealth. “God recognises marriage between man and woman, and there is no way we will accept homosexuality and gay marriages. The Bible is very clear on the matter,” he said.
The bishop said during the pilgrimage by more than 1,200 pilgrims worldwide, those in attendance resolved to reject gay marriages and promised to fight for the unity of the Anglican community. He said another resolution was to ensure that the church was not divided by those serving personal interest, but work towards unity and according to the Bible. “The church in East Africa has played a leading role in rejecting gay marriage and that is why two bishops from Kenya have been sent to the US to advocate against the trend and preach reconciliation,” he said.
Speaking at the Eldoret Cathedral Church, Kogo also said MPs must pay taxes as a sign of patriotism. He said the Bible supports paying taxes and wondered why some MPs were opposed to it. He also called for reconciliation and forgiveness among the displaced people and the host communities. “I am pained to see my brothers and sisters in the camps. We must forgive and work towards healing the nation,” he said.
August 14, 2008 – kbc.co.ke
Kenya AIDS communication strategy for youth launched
by Doreen Appolos
The National Aids Control Council on Thursday launched the Kenya National HIV and AIDS communication strategy for Youth. The strategy which emphasizes on the use of effective communication approaches to address the aspects of prevention, care and support as well as mitigation of social- economic impact of HIV and AIDS will help in fighting the spread of the disease among the young population. The strategy developed for all implementing partners in the private and public sectors in the fight against HIV and AIDS will go a long way in influencing behavior change and character formation among the youth.
This aims to address the raising numbers of the spread of the disease among the youth, especially on female youth said to be between the age of 15 and 24 years. Special programmes minister Naomi Shaban called upon partners to strive to mobilize resources to support the implementation of the evidence based communication interventions that will ensure young people grow up free from the infection. Currently, the numbers of new infections have stabilized at a high rate of 60,000 and 80,000 infections per year and 3 out of 5 people infected are female. Minister for public health and sanitation Beth Mugo urged young generation to be more vigilant in HIV prevention and encourage positive behavior change, for a successful fight against this disease.
September 2008 – msmandhiv.org
Principles for an Effective HIV Prevention, Care & Treatment Response for Most At-Risk Populations in Kenya
by Angus Parkinson – email@example.com
Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment with Constella Futures recently supported the National AIDS Control Council to undertake two consultative meetings with sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users in Nairobi and Mombasa in order to inform the national Joint AIDS Programme Review – an annual process that measures and prioritizes national HIV response.
From these meetings, involving both ‘beneficiaries’ (i.e. SWs, MSM and IDUs themselves) and organizations providing services to these groups, ten key cross-cutting priorities for an effective HIV response for these most at-risk populations emerged.