Gay Kenya News & Reports 2011

Also see:
Behind the Mask LGBT African website

1 3rd Regional Changing Faces, Changing Spaces Conference 2/11

2 HIV Stigma Keeps Asian Population From Accessing HIV Services 3/11

3 POZ Interview with David Kuria from the (GALCK) 4/11

4 LGBT activist talks challenges in Kenya 4/11

5 A FSRN series on gay rights, discrimination and religion 5/11

5a Rural MSM too afraid to access HIV health services 6/11

5b Gay Kenya Partners AFRA Kenya 6/11

6 Africa: New light shed on male sex work 6/11

6a HIV Tribunal Finally Gets Down to Business 7/11

7 South Africa Kenya Launch MSM Health Training Manual 7/11

8 The Human Rights Status of LGB in East Africa 2009-2010 7/11

9 Sodomy Charge Reduced To Indecent Assault 7/11

10 A Candid Conversation With Trans Women 7/11

11 Building Pillars For You Family 7/11

12 MSM Group’s Health And Wellnes Initiative 8/11

13 LGBTI’s Witness A Resurgence Of Blackmail Involving Police 8/11

13a It has been a year 8/11

14 Kenyan Muslims Angered By Chief Justice’s Pro-Gay Rights Comment 9/11

14a New lube aimed at LGBTI set to hit Kenyan maket 10/11

15 Gay Africans flee persecution 10/11

16 Kenyan ex-pat aims to help gay countrymen 11/11

17 Identity Magazine, Kenya’s LGBT & Sex Work Magazine 11/11

February 2011 – MSM Global Forum

3rd Regional Changing Faces, Changing Spaces Conference – 04 May, 2011 – 06 May, 2011

Dear Partners and Friends,

UHAI-EASHRI is pleased to announce that the 3rd Regional Changing Faces, Changing Spaces Conference will be convened in Nairobi, Kenya from 4th to 6th May, 2011. This conference will bring together activists from the LGBTI and sex worker movements in East Africa, as well as health and legal professionals, human rights activists and organizations, and donor partners working in the Region (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda). As such, UHAI is requesting participation, input and support from activists within the LGBTI and sex worker movements across the five countries. It is hoped that a representative team of activists will guide UHAI in developing the Conference agenda with the needs of the activist community in mind and in light of lessons learned from the 1st and 2nd Conferences.

This will require activist participants, working with the Conference Task Force, to volunteer time and their unique perspectives in helping this Conference meet the needs of all the stakeholders involved in UHAI. Further to this, the activist participants will be involved in crucial decision making regarding the logistics and organizing of this Conference. Therefore, we are seeking a maximum of 8 LGBTI and sex worker activists to volunteer a little of their time (hopefully not more than 5 hours per week in the run up to the Conference). Activist participants will need to have email and telephone access.

This is a great opportunity to shape the 3rd Changing Faces, Changing Spaces Conference and to ensure your place at it! UHAI has contracted Angus Parkinson’s services as the Conference Coordinator. Thus, if you would like to join the Conference Task Force, please reply to providing a brief note on your background and involvement in the LGBTI/sex worker movement in your country, no later than Friday 28th January 2011. Task Force members will be selected from the applications by the UHAI team on the basis of experience, involvement and representation looking to ensure that the task force has sex worker activists, trans activists, intersex activists as well as geographical representation (we’re looking for new faces!).

UHAI is also inviting all activists in the Region to provide any ideas, opinions or guidance in regards to this upcoming event. Is there something you feel strongly about? Something that you feel must be discussed at the Conference? With this in mind, we are asking YOU to tell us what you would like to see at the 3rd Changing Faces Changing Spaces Conference and how we can improve on the previous CFCS Conferences. So…please click on the following link and take 10 minutes to tell us what you think. Thanks in advance!

Link to the survey

17 March 2011 – PlusNews

Kenya: HIV Stigma Keeps Asian Population From Accessing HIV Services

by Jasmine Jenkins
When 20-year-old Jenna (not her real name), a Kenyan of Asian (Indian) descent, told her family two years ago she had tested positive for HIV, they forced her to terminate her pregnancy, forbade her from seeking treatment and kept her locked in the house because of the shame she had brought on the family. She did, however, go against their will and obtained life-prolonging antiretroviral medication at hospital. She now lives with another family who have taken her in and accepted her status. “When I insisted on seeking treatment, my family chased me away,” Jenna told IRIN/PlusNews. “For them it was good if I died slowly rather than shame them by seeking treatment and giving people an opportunity to know my status.”

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates there are about 120,000 Kenyans of Asian – largely South Asian – origin, mainly living in the three major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. According to Anwar Ali Sharif, 36, the only Asian member of the National Empowerment of People Living with HIV/AIDS of Kenya (NEPHAK), stigma is the biggest impediment to Kenyan Asians accessing HIV/AIDS services. “There is a lot of stigma among Kenyans of Asian origin. Many people who are HIV-positive are locked in the house because it is feared they will shame the family if it is known they are HIV-positive,” he said.

He noted that while wealthy Asians could afford to visit private health facilities where no one need know their status, the stigma of visiting the clearly marked comprehensive HIV care clinics in public hospitals kept poorer Asians away from treatment. Peter Cherutich, head of prevention services at the National AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections Control Programme, says there were no statistics on HIV prevalence among Kenyan Asians and no services tailored specifically to the Asian community as they were expected to receive services like any other Kenyan.

“As part of the Kenyan population, we expect them to access services like everyone [else],” he said. “It is not desirable to have specific surveys targeting certain racial groups unless it is clearly known that by virtue of their race they have certain biologic or behavioural or cultural factors putting them at greater risk for HIV. I don’t think this is the case for this population.” But AIDS activists disagree, and say Asians should have messages targeted to their community the same way the government and its partners have tailored messages on HIV to different religious groups, age groups and in different languages for different ethnic communities.

“When you target people as a specific group – as is being done with ‘most at-risk populations’ – then you are able to effectively offer services to them in a way that suits their needs and uniqueness,” said Nelson Otwoma, national coordinator for NEPHAK.

“It is important to remember that despite their close community, sexually they do relate to the native Kenyans and therefore they stand a chance of getting infected,” he added. “They tend to rely on family-based networks [for information on HIV] which are… not properly capacitated to carry out such roles effectively.” For [my family] it was good if I died slowly rather than shame them by seeking treatment and giving people an opportunity to know my status The government can use religious leaders or cultural forums, for example, to reach out to Kenyan Asians with HIV and AIDS information so that they are not left out,” said NEPHAK’s Sharif.

When he found out his own status, Sharif initially felt shut out by his community; slowly, however, he has taught his immediate family that they have nothing to fear from him and that HIV is not a death sentence.

“Now my immediate family is very supportive and I am even doing my degree course with their help,” he said, adding that openness was the best way to address the high levels of stigma in his community. I do one-on-one talks with my peers and share with them information about HIV and try to [debunk] certain myths that they have, such as thinking HIV is manufactured in the lab or that condoms have holes,” Sharif said. “If I could get other people of Asian origin like me to help, we would make a great impact.”

April 2, 2011 – African Activist

POZ Interview with David Kuria from the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)

David Kuria works for the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) and is running for Kenya’s Senate. If elected, he will become the second openly gay politician in Africa. POZ recently interviewed Kuria about his work at GALCK, the impact of David Kato’s death in Africa, the link between HIV/AIDS and LGBTI rights and about life for LGBTI Kenyans in general.


Here is the interview with David from POZ:

Tell us about GALCK

At GALCK, we advocate for [LGBT] human rights. We also advocate for access to health services and safe spaces. We try to change policies and laws. The center is free. We have a drop-in center where people can just come to be who they are, to drop that other persona, drop the mask that they have created. Often people are just interested in having a chat with a fellow human being at a human level and then going home. Of course, we have security features. Video cameras see who is coming in. If you come as a group, then the door will not open. It is relatively safe, [but] at the end of the day, the center closes down and people have to go home. [Then, they are less safe.]

Did you know David Kato, the Ugandan LGBT activist who was killed earlier this year?

Yes, I knew David Kato. We met for the first time in 2006 at an East African convening of LGBT rights activists in Kenya, then in 2007 at the World Social Forum in Nairobi. David was an outspoken activist who did not accept any form of discrimination. It pained him personally, even when he was not the one being discriminated against. At one point, when Ugandan activists ran to Kenya for safety and worked for a few weeks at the GALCK offices, we in Kenya still relied on David back in Uganda to speak out on our behalf. He will certainly be missed.

How has his death affected GALCK and your activism?

David’s brutal murder woke us all up to the fact that there are people out there who are ready and willing to kill on account of sexual orientation or gender identity. On any single day, we are likely to face verbal abuse and occasionally physical abuse. We know that we may have to pay the ultimate price for our work, but it is not the kind of thing we think of until it happens to one of us. It happened to David Kato. The [LGBT] community is scared. Even though David’s murder does scare us—knowing as we do that our own murderer could be lurking behind some corner—we feel we owe it to David to be even more vocal and energized in our work. We cannot give up. If we did, David’s death would be in vain.

Has the situation worsened for activists in Africa as a result?

The immediate reaction was an emergence of two kinds of schools of thought. The first says LGBT activists, and David Kato in particular, had it coming. Their view is that LGBT people are sinful and the wages of sin is death. They view this as the religious outcome. Then there is the second group who, without engaging in the moral debate, are now asking whether it is acceptable to stand and watch while human rights are violated. The discussions are ongoing, and it is hard to know which group will hold sway. But for the first time, there is no automatic and universal condemnation of LGBT people.

We hope the accused, if found guilty, will be given the maximum sentence. We do not support the death sentence, not even for him. But he should spend the rest of his life behind bars. The same should happen to all the others who have cut short the lives of LGBT people in East Africa [and worldwide].

April 20, 2011 – Yale Daily Times

LGBT activist talks challenges in Kenya

By Mohammad Salhut – Contributing Reporter
In Kenya, even some health workers who provide services to men who have sex with men are homophobic, LGBT activist Rachel Mandel said. Mandel, a former employee for the International Center for Reproductive Health, spoke to 12 professors and graduate students in Luce Hall Wednesday about the difficulties of advocating for gay rights in Kenya through public health organizations. While employees of these organizations aim to improve health standards for local communities, Mandel said often the employees do not support their patients’ sexual orientations and act in homophobic ways. “The whole gay rights thing has a whole different place there than it does here,” she said.

Part of the problem, Mandel said, is the large chasm between what the administrators of non-profit organizations think is happening on the ground, and what is actually taking place. Despite the organizations’ policies on equal treatment for patients, many employees at the two organizations Mandel worked for were “incredibly” homophobic, she said. “The first time that I went I had tour of city of Mombasa by a staff member of ICRH,” she said. “At one point during the car ride he talked about homosexuality and referred to it as a psychological distortion. This same employee later became the head of the [Men who have sex with men] project.”

Mandel said she faced many challenges even within the organization itself. She said she was once pulled aside by a colleague who told her that her work on LGBT issues was useless and that she should stop. Mandel also spoke about her most recent visit to Kenya this past summer. “Guys latched on to me because I was on their side, I guess, and I was there to talk to them and answer questions,” she said, becoming emotional as she recalled her experiences. “They really liked me and opened up to me a lot more than I was prepared to hear.”

Mandel first became involved with health issues on the African continent through a S.I.T. study abroad program she went on during her undergradute degree at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst. From her first visit to Kenya in 2007, Mandel said she was interested in advocating for LGBT issues but she felt she could not express this openly for fear of being excluded. After she was ensconced in the program, though, she became involved with a peer education program that exposed her to the health issues facing men who have sex with men.

Through this experience, Mandel discovered the level of danger that faces members of this community — over 42 percent of the men who have sex with men that she worked with were HIV-positive, she said. Since 2007, Mandel has returned to Kenya twice, saying that her career path began to change after her first visit. “My focus was shifting away from hearing stories of these men and getting their voices heard,” she said. “I was looking at the social blocks in Africa. There is this deeply embedded feeling that homosexuality is un-African, which is simply not true according to research.”

Audience members interviewed said they enjoyed hearing about the Mandel’s unique experiences of sexuality and health in Africa. Katie Gualtieri GRD ’11, a student in the African Studies Department, said that speakers like Mandel help bring attention to this obviously sensitive subject in the realm of African Studies. “There needs to be more attention to the research people like Rachel do,” she said. “There needs to be more light shed on both her field of work as well as how human rights are conceptualized in the West.” Mandel received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she completed an independent concentration on gender and sexuality studies.

19 May 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

A FSRN series on gay rights, discrimination and religion – Audio: LGBTI rights and religion, a series from Indonesia, Uganda + Kenya

Source: Free Speech Radio News
In Indonesia, homosexuality is not outlawed but the Indonesian Ulemna Council has declared it evil or haram. And many mosques and Islamic schools in Indonesia discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims. But in a quiet alley in the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Mariyani, a 50-year-old transgender hairdresser, has turned part of her salon into an Islamic school. FSRN’s Rebecca Henschke went to meet Mariyani on her birthday.

In Kenya the country’s new constitution, approved last summer, ensures the rights of minority groups and criminalizes discrimination based on sex, age, religion, race, and sexual orientation among others. But many people continue to be openly discriminated against because of their sexual preferences or sexual orientation and many government officials, religious leaders and academics openly condemn homosexuality. FSRN’s Tanya Castle filed this report.

Uganda’s record on human rights, and LGBT rights in particular, has attracted a lot of criticism at home and overseas. Under Ugandan law, committing what are described as homosexual acts is illegal and the penalty can be a life sentence. For more, we turned to Kasha Jacqueline founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an LGBT rights organization in Kampala

14 June 2011 – IRIN

Kenya: Rural MSM too afraid to access HIV health services

Lanjuera (PlusNews) – Discriminatory laws and a largely homophobic society mean that men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kenya generally find it difficult to access HIV-related information and health services, but rural MSM have an especially hard time. When Kibet Kipsowen*, 30, a cattle keeper in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, and his partner have sex, they use the oil-based jelly he applies when milking his cows; he’s never heard of a water-based lubricant, let alone used one. “Milking jelly is the only lubricant I have known for the last four years,” he told IRIN/PlusNews at his home in the village of Lanjuera. Health practitioners discourage the use of oil-based lubricants for anal sex, as the oil degrades condoms, increasing the likelihood that they will break. Studies have found that most African MSM use oil-based lubricants, heightening their risk of contracting HIV.

According to a 2008 Modes of Transmission study conducted by UNAIDS and the government, MSM and prisoners account for 15.2 percent of new HIV infections in Kenya annually. Kipsowen and his partner have been an item for a few years now, but dare not let anyone in their village know they are a couple. “Even people who have ‘normal’ sex do not speak about it – I can never reveal my sexuality or else I would risk being an outcast, or even be killed,” he said. The only other person in the village who knows about his sexuality is Soita Wellapondi, a local nurse and social worker, and that’s only because Kipsowen visited her when he developed a sexually transmitted infection.

“At that time I had a lot of wounds in my anus; I felt so much pain that I thought I would die, yet I could not even confide to my own mother, brother or sister, and I could not visit a health centre,” he said. He knew that by confiding in Wellapondi he risked his secret being revealed to the community, but he felt she was his only chance of accessing health care. “I bought him some antibiotics and pain killers; it was absolutely impossible to convince him to visit a health centre, even one far away where he is not known,” said Wellapondi.

Local health workers have very little experience and no training in dealing with MSM. A clinical officer at the Mogotio health centre near Lanjuera says he has only ever had one MSM client. ”Even people who have ‘normal’ sex do not speak about it – I can never reveal my sexuality or else I would risk being an outcast or even be killed”

“He came here for treatment of injuries resulting from anal sex, and was advised to come for further treatment but he never came back,” said the clinical officer, who declined to be named. “A rumour spread in the neighbourhood about the man’s sexuality – that could be the reason he never returned,” he added. “Unfortunately, the rumour could have originated from hospital workers, most of whom were shocked by the ‘strange’ patient.”

The local District AIDS Officer, Dr Festus Kanyako, says there is a definite need for MSM in rural areas to know that they have the same rights to health care as other members of the community.

“Their issues are treated as extremely private and this deprives them of… the information, counselling and facilities that they need in their sexual lives. I have never had any of them come out in the open [but] if I had, I would arrange for access to protection and health care.” he told IRIN/PlusNews. “It is saddening because at major meetings [on HIV] in towns, I see MSM speaking freely and socializing open about their sexuality,” Kanyako commented. “I wonder if this will ever happen in the remote district where I work.”

June 14th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

Gay Kenya Partners AFRA Kenya In Project To Promote LGBTI Advocacy Skills

by Melissa Wainaina
A three-month project was launched on June 6 to train some members of the LGBTI community on effective communication to help provide factual reports and stories to help raise awareness and the voice of advocacy. The venture is a partnership between Gay Kenya and Afra Kenya who received some funding to provide 14 members a skills-building course that trains them in website blog management and set up, writing and editing articles to encourage them to comprehensively cover stories on LGBTI issues. Each organisation presented seven members each for the training. Katey, programme and finance co-ordinator for AFRA Kenya said that the aim of the project is to have more unbiased reporting from the community and help set straight much of the inaccurate reporting already in existence.

This venture will mainly be web-based and will also see a website develop soon to set a stage for advocacy and post members stories or poetry. This project is a pilot hoping to encourage more members to seek skills that build advocacy. Those picked where chosen on a “needs basis” prioritising members in the groups who have completed high school and have no jobs. In fact one of the beneficiary of this course was “outed” and her parents stop paying her school fees in a journalism course. Getting this training will allow her to get her certification and further herself.

It is hoped that this venture and the skills learnt also helps the individuals nurture and develop their careers. It is hope that with this training there will be more confident voices championing the rights of the LGBTI and standing out to give thought provoking discussions.

20 June 2011 – IRIN PlusNews

Africa: New light shed on male sex work

Johannesburg,(PlusNews) – Commercial sex work, dominated by a focus on women, could be redefined as new research launched today in Nairobi, Kenya, sheds light on the complicated HIV prevention needs of what may be Africa’s most deeply underground group at high risk of HIV – male sex workers. The report co-authored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and South Africa’s Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) seeks to better understand the social contexts, sexual practices and risks, including that of HIV, among these men. The professional debut of many of the 70 male sex workers surveyed in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe was often prompted by the family rejecting the men’s sexual orientation; for others, it was a way to survive in a foreign country.

Men reported being at risk of HIV in many ways, including the unavailability of speciality health services, the premium clients placed on unprotected sex, violence and the lure of substance abuse. Although the work often placed them at risk of substance and physical abuse as well as HIV infection, the researchers found that it also provided the men with a sense of freedom and empowerment. The report cautions that mitigating these risks may require specialised HIV prevention services unlike those targeted at female commercial sex workers or men who have sex with men (MSM).

A series of interviews with male sex workers at a five-country workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, and country visits to Kenya and Namibia has produced a significant addition to the paucity of data on male sex workers, according to Paul Boyce, a UNDP researcher. While data on MSM from Malawi, Namibia and Botswana indicated that about 17 percent were HIV positive – almost twice the national prevalence rates of their respective countries – not much has been written on the specific HIV risks of male sex workers, which may be higher than those of MSM.

While male sex workers reported working at a range of venues, including Namibian truck stops and Zimbabwean mines, most of the available information on male sex work has come from those operating in the sex tourism hot spot of Mombasa, Kenya, with limited data from a 2009 study in South Africa that showed male sex workers were twice as likely to engage in anal sex than MSM who were not selling sex.

Not necessarily the same old risks
Unprotected receptive anal sex carries almost 20 times the HIV risk associated with unprotected vaginal sex. Interviewees told researchers that the unavailability of water-based lubricant, which reduces the risk of condoms breaking during anal sex, and the higher financial reward of unprotected anal sex, made consistent condom use difficult. Some clients forced unprotected intercourse on sex workers, while others admitted to practicing unsafe sex due to the disinhibition often brought about by the drug and alcohol abuse that is reportedly part of the social scene in sex work. Drugs and alcohol also helped the men mentally cope with the omnipresent risks of this lifestyle, including police harassment.

South African male sex workers said substance abuse – not HIV infection – was the greatest threat to their health. Those who tried to access health services for HIV testing and treatment, or the diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), reported being ridiculed and stigmatized by health workers, even in countries like Kenya, where the Ministry of Health has introduced new guidelines on MSM and sex work, and health and HIV.

Read article

5 July 2011 –

HIV Tribunal Finally Gets Down to Business

by Oliver Mathenge
Nairobi — The rights of people living with HIV received a boost on Tuesday when a tribunal to handle their complaints was inaugurated, two years after members were appointed. The seven-member HIV and Aids Tribunal will handle complaints on transmission of HIV, confidentiality, testing, access to healthcare, discrimination and policies, as well as HIV-related research. And the special tribunal warned that it would no longer be business as usual for those who have been discriminating against people with Aids.

The tribunal is authorised to hear and determine complaints or appeals arising from any breach of the HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act, excluding criminal jurisdiction. The tribunal has the mandate to summon witnesses, take evidence, and recommend action to be taken on anyone who is found guilty of discriminating against people on the basis of their HIV/Aids status. Some of the cases lined up for the tribunal include discrimination against people living with HIV at work place, schools, colleges, foreign embassies and even at home.

According to the Act, it is an offence to conduct a HIV test on a person with disability or a minor without the written consent of a guardian. The Act says that the tribunal has the powers to make an order; “for the payment of damages in respect of any proven financial loss, including future loss, or in respect of impairment of dignity, pain and suffering or emotional and psychological suffering as a result of the discrimination in question.” Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi said that the Constitution provided for equality and freedom from discrimination and made it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of race, sex, health and marital status, among other factors.

“There are instances when the fundamental rights and freedoms of the infected and the affected have been contravened without any recourse for remedy,” said Ms Murugi.

The National Aids Control Council director Alloys Orago said that stigma was more deadly than the virus itself as it alienated the patients. Lawyer Ambrose Otieno Rachier, who will chair the tribunal, said it was a new dawn for those who had been victimised as a result of their HIV status. “The tribunal is going to address fundamental human rights abuses as a result of an individual’s HIV status,” he said.

He said their offices would be located at Landmark Plaza next to Nairobi Hospital, but it would open offices in all counties.

July 12th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

South Africa Kenya Launch MSM Health Training Manual

by Mongezi Mhlongo (Seniour reporter)
A ground-breaking training manual that will serve as a guideline for healthcare workers who work with men who have sex with men (MSM) has just been published. Entitled “Men who have Sex with Men: An Introductory Guide for Health Care Workers in Africa,” the training manual is a collaboration between the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation based in Cape Town and KEMRI based in Kilifi, Kenya both which have extensive experience in working with MSM issues.

Both organisations have combined experiences and expertise to develop a manual which aimed at “improving STI/HIV risk-reduction counselling and testing services for MSM in Africa.” The manual comes shortly after the South African Health Ministry acknowledged that MSM have been side-lined in HIV/Aids interventions at the recent MSM symposium held in Cape Town. The guide’s publishers hope that it will create greater understanding of MSM needs. Reading Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s speech at the symposium, Dr Yogan Pillay, South Africa’s Deputy Director General Strategic Health Programmes in the Department of Health said, “Even though the Strategic Plan mentions MSM, we certainly haven’t done enough to protect this group.We do not know how the epidemic affects MSM nationally as we only have small regional population.”

According to the Desmond Tutu Foundation “The guide also aims to empower health care workers to discuss anal sex with men and women in addition to being sensitive to MSM behaviour. There is no way to determine whether a man is an MSM by looking at him, and the skills and understanding harnessed are applicable to all users of health care services and their providers.”

The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation was established in 2004 as a research action organisation that envisions a brighter future where HIV is manageable and its presence is diminished. The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme started MSM research in coastal Kenya in 2005 and has since counselled, tested and screened over 1,000 MSM. Of these, both HIVpositive and negative MSM have regularly attended a drop-in centre and a research clinic. Over 3,000 visits have been recorded.

Download the manual here

21 July 2011 – MSM Global Forum

The Human Rights Status of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual in East Africa 2009-2010

by Andiah Kisia and Milka Wahu
Introduction to LGBTI life In East Africa
On January 26th 2010, three weeks after the above judgement was made, David Kato, one of the complainants in the case and one of the people mentioned in the Rolling Stone tabloid as one of 100 homosexuals in Uganda, was assaulted and killed in his home in Mukono District, 27 kilometers outside Kampala.

Until very recently, the lives of LGBTI people in East Africa have been characterized by silence and invisibility. So little was known about the lives of sexual minorities in the region that it was easy for the larger society to imagine that they did not exist at all. So it was that in 1999, during an acceptance speech at a ceremony recognising the Uganda government’s efforts to combat HIV, President Yoweri Museveni could say that male to male transmission of HIV in Uganda was not a problem because “we do not have homosexuals in Uganda.” Within a week of President Museveni’s comments, Kenya’s then President Daniel arap Moi weighed in on the issue, describing homosexuality as unchristian and un-African and vowing not to “shy away from warning Kenyans against the dangers of the scourge.”

For years, public discourse on sexual minorities has been largely confined to vague references to the “problem” of homosexuality in schools and prisons. This, coupled with a lack of representation in any media of individuals self-identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender means that the dialogue has been driven by long held and unquestioned assumptions of the newness and un-Africanness of homosexuality and other sexual and gender minority identifications and practices.

Only within the last decade have sexual and gender minorities in Africa as a whole and East Africa in particular began to speak up against the misplaced notions of who and what they are and by so doing, to stimulate debate within their societies, not always informed or productive, but always spirited, about the nature and rights of same-sex practicing citizens. Unsurprisingly, the increased visibility of LGBTI individuals and groups has resulted in a strong backlash by a conservative society…

View complete report here

July 22nd, 2011 – Behind The Mask

Sodomy Charge Reduced To Indecent Assault

When a Kenyan radio station reported that a man had been arrested and charged with sodomy last week, there was alarm in the LGBTI community. BTM correspondent Melissa Wainaina spoke to lawyer, Monica Mbaru, to get the details of what actually happened and why the charge was changed. Please give us some insight to the incident that affected a member of the LGBTI community? What were the circumstances and what were the allegations that led to an arrest? On the morning of Friday, July 15 John* was arrested at his home in Nairobi, allegedly for sodomy. He was held briefly at Ngara Chief’s Camp [in Nairobi] and then forwarded to Nairobi Central Police Station in the afternoon. This was to avoid the constitutional holding limit that require any arresting person not to keep a suspect overnight while the police cannot hold such a person for more than 24 hours unless the arrest falls over a weekend.

John managed to call a friend on Saturday July 16 and we got the information on Sunday morning to assist him. I managed to meet the Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS) prior to seeing John and he alleged that the accused had greeted somebody along the streets, given him Sh20 (US$0.22) and “confused him.” He led him to a lodging [house] and sodomised him. He asserted that the arrest was made by the Ngara Chief’s Administration Police.

However, there was no recorded statement from the complainant, only the arrest had been recorded. The OCS summoned the investigating officer who indicated that the arresting AP was off duty at the time.

What is the progress of the case as of Thursday July 21, 2011?
John was charged at the Makadara Magistrate’s Court in Nairobi on Monday, July 18 with the offence of indecent assault as the complainant had not filed the necessary medical documents to confirm the sodomy allegations, maybe due to the fact it never happened or they had hoped John would simply pay a bribe and get the police to drop the case. Now that there was a lawyer giving attention to the case, the officers needed to have an offence.

What are the Kenyan legal strengths and/or challenges in regards to this case?
The challenge will be to prove the case of indecent assault, what exactly happened and the evidence available. So far the complainant has not written his statement and could use this opportunity to cook up some. Another challenge is to frustrate the case with many adjournments, [a tactic] which investigating officers [are known to] use to avoid taking responsibility for illegal detentions and malicious prosecutions and just ‘punish’ the accused for hiring a lawyer instead of either paying [them] off for the closure of the case or admitting to the offence. The police did not expect that he would get a lawyer. My presence at the station caused such a huge commotion.

What is your way forward in this particular case?
The accused is out on a cash bail of Sh 50,000 (US$555). He was released on July 20 upon a deposit of the cash bail. The case comes up for mention on 1st August 2011 and the hearing date set for 3rd October 2011.

Any other pertinent thoughts?
As the LGBTI community in Kenya seeks to address equality and non-discrimination based on the new constitution, a case like John’s gives that opportunity to address decriminalization of same-sex behavior. As it stands today the sodomy law potentially creates a gap where blackmailers and extortionists use the law to their advantage. John’s case would form a good test case to challenge these laws and the potential conflicts it creates in addressing personal freedoms and rights as well as other public health concerns.

Further, an arrest based on one’s perceived or real sexual orientation sets in motion other human rights violations most specifically the invasion of privacy. It seems clear in this case that John has suffered clear violations of his rights including being in custody for six days. He is being charged with a crime that is difficult to prove without having to violate individual freedoms for instance in order to “catch one in the act” it would necessitate an invasion of privacy.

*Not his real name.

July 25th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

A Candid Conversation With Trans Women And Their Realities In Kenya

Transgender is defined as the state of an individual’s self gender identity, whether it be man, woman, neither or both and this identity mainly does not match the gender assigned at birth. Kenya does not have a provision in law for a gender other than male or female. Furthermore, there are no provisions for changing the gender of an individual assigned at birth. Most names in Kenya are generally gendered and therefore changing a name to reflect an individual gender identity can be very difficult for instance, one may not change from Jane to John or Catherine to Collins without causing a stir.

There are also several societal and legal implications that affect every day lives of trans persons. I spoke to two trans women on their own experiences and views of the trans movement in Kenya. First, Audrey, a Kenyan based trans woman spoke on the challenges faced by trans individuals in Kenya.

What are the various legal and societal challenges faced by you as a Trans person? What do you feel can be done to specifically to counter these challenges?
I have found myself getting flack from the gay and lesbian community locally who tag me as homophobic and I have even been the subject of abuse on some web forums. I have also received a death threat, as if that would scare me. In my opinion, if you believe in God and the Bible then you ought to quit being a homosexual or accept that you are a sinner, well that is if you call yourself an honest and true believer. Look at the legal aspect, the Kenyan government denies trans people the right to change names or photos in ID cards, birth certificates and academic certificates. Trans individuals are constantly arrested by police accused of being female or male impersonators or homosexuals. We are not distinguished separately from homosexuals.

Do you feel that there is a strong a trans movement in Kenya?
I don’t know what that is supposed to mean. As a Trans person, what is your idea of an ideal Kenya? An [ideal] Kenya [would be one] where cisgender people, i.e. homosexuals and heterosexuals, do not interfere with the rights of transgender people.

Anything else you feel is important to mention?
There is a serious need to keep trans issues trans and not make them gay issues. Then gays and lesbians and their organizations need to stop “gaynizing” and lumping trans people into their organizations and issues. We need a thick wall separating trans and gay. We should not mix the two as if they are related. Next I spoke to Lindsey a trans woman living and working in Nairobi on her own trans realities.

What are the various legal and societal challenges faced by you as a trans person? What do you feel can be done to specifically to counter these challenges?
I began transitioning in 2009 and the past two years have been the most fulfilling of all years in my life. The biggest issue is ignorance and not just from general society, but also from within the LGBTI community. I believe that if the trans community knew better about what it means to be trans and how one can live a fulfilled life with this knowledge, and then there is a higher chance for the greater society to break their ignorance. Secondly, the trans issue is a medical issue.

Currently, being a transsexual means you ’suffer’ from gender dysphoria (or gender identity disorder, GID). Getting any form of medical support in terms of psychological welfare or even other support such as access to hormones, to endocrinologists and even corrective surgery is more like a façade. There are currently no laws whatsoever governing gender dysphoria and even transsexualism in terms of transition. Those who have been able to go through transition and are probably still transitioning have had to do it without support. There is a marked lack of expertise from the medical fraternity on trans issues in Kenya. The issue of stigma and discrimination is a main reason why trans people do not bother going to medical institutions to seek assistance with their condition (not disorder). They do not want to undergo discrimination or ridicule from medical staff. There have also been times when practitioners question their patient’s decision to transition rather than treat them or tend to their medical needs. These are just but a few of the challenges faced by trans Kenyans.

Is there a trans movement in Kenya? What kind of work do they do?
There is a trans movement in Kenya. There is only one trans specific organization (that also deals with intersex issues) namely Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA). It was founded in 2008 by two trans activists to address trans specific issues and carving their own space under the LGBTI’ umbrella movement. TEA mainly educates and advocates for trans related causes. They publish articles and stories on mainstream media, hold support group meetings for members, hold workshops for different aspects of society such as medical practitioners, teachers, etc., perform outreach activities for dissemination of information and so forth.

What is the way forward for the trans movement in Kenya?
The way forward is broad, but in my opinion the most basic thing to do is to do away myths and misunderstandings. There is a high need for a wider outreach to find trans individuals across Kenya. There is also a need so sensitize the society so as to better understand trans individuals and their issues.

What would be an ideal Kenya for you?
My hope is that in the near future Kenya will have trans supportive laws that protect us in the medical sector, the Kenyan job market and in life in general. I also wish that more trans people come out and live their lives without fear and prejudice and that society learns tolerance and is more accepting of a diverse mix of people.

July 27th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

Building Pillars For You Family– Beyond Marriage Certificates

by Melissa Wainaina
As the LGBTI community in Kenya we are preoccupied in dealing with prejudice and homophobia in society and we sometimes forget cover the bases of our own lives, loved ones and livelihoods. Let me illustrate my point: A Nakuru-based lesbian lost her life partner several years ago and was left with two of the three children she is now raising. Her late partner was formally employed, with a pension and retirement benefits but after her death, her employer refused to recognise her partner as the beneficiary of the pension. The lesbian is now struggling to raise the children even though her partner’s benefits would have gone a long way to help meet the family’s needs.

A gay couple based in Mombasa co-owned a matatu (a share taxi) but registered it only in one partner’s name. The father of one of the partners has since then moved into his “unmarried” son’s house and is now running the matatu business on behalf of his son. The partner whose name is not on the registration has been slowly eclipsed from the dynamic, causing tensions in the relationship. These are familiar stories we come across in every day life. “It is very easy for same sex couples to continually say how unprotected they are by the law and how they are at the mercy of illegality and homophobia. On the other hand, it is possible to protect one’s partner and children even in the absence of a marriage certificate,” said Emily, a 39-year-old lesbian and businesswoman based in Nairobi.

Same-sex couples who have decided to be together despite all the odds in a country such as Kenya where same-sex unions are not legal, need to know there are simple steps that can be taken to protect each other and safeguard livelihoods. We all have dreams of having our own homes and being financially independent. How do we safeguard and ensure we live to see these dreams come to fruition? As we wait for same-sex couples to be recognised by our government, there are things we can do to show palpable commitment to each other.

The first step in showing your partner and dependants your commitment is by fortifying the pillars of your lives together from vulnerabilities like destitution and medical problems. These pillars or cornerstones ensure that relationships are fortified with sound financial decisions. Some of these pillars include having medical insurance, an updated last will and testament, updated tax obligations, savings set aside, life insurance and many others. It is crucial for life partners to have a conversation with a financial advisor who can help them list sources of income, liabilities and assets no matter how big or how small. This will help determine a couple’s net worth at that moment and help identify if there are areas that can be improved. For instance, looking at the kinds of loans that have been procured and if there cheaper ways to get financing (less interest), or perhaps if there is an aspect of spending that can be reduced. A financial advisor will guide you on how to create disposable income that you can set aside and invest.

There are several medical insurance companies with a variety of options that are designed for everyone’s pocket. One of the ways same sex couples can work around getting cover is by taking out individual policies. “I am quite fortunate that my organisation is an equal opportunity employer and extends benefits irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity. It allowed me to extend medical cover to my partner and our children. I saw the possibility of side stepping hetero-normative restrictions by getting individual cover. Just last year my partner had an operation and was hospitalised for a week and had a medical bill that would have wiped out our savings had she not been on cover. Medical cover is a necessity and should be ranked in the same place as rent and school fees in that order of importance,” explained a Nairobi based lesbian.

Children in the relationship would fall under their legal dependant. It is crucial to be covered in case of any medical emergency, no matter how healthy one may be. Same sex couples should ensure that they have updated their National Hospital and Insurance Fund (NHIF) as this helps to subsidize hospitalisation costs. Protect yourself and inquire now about the various options in the market. Many of us do not like talking about death. However, it is important to sit with your life partner and talk about each other’s lives once one partner has passed on. It is especially important if children and other dependants are involved. One of the most effective ways is to be open to essential family and friends about who your partner is.

Read more

August 3rd, 2011 – Behind The Mask

Kenyan MSM Group’s Health And Wellnes Initiative To Highlight Discrimination

Kenya’s ISHTAR-MSM is set to hold an MSM Health and Wellness Day on Friday, August 5, aimed at providing education on health issues faced by the MSM community. This function will be held to help highlight the situation where men who have sex with men (MSM) still face discrimination at government health institutions. On the day, a range of activities have been planned. These include HIV Testing and Counselling services, Health education, Vocational training and a Human Rights talk.

Peter Njane, Director of ISHTAR-MSM said, “One of the challenges that we are facing is that most MSM’s are afraid to come and test, which is why the prevalence is so high, we encourage them to come and test, in order for them to know they status, and to reduce the number of infections. Another challenge that we are currently facing is the growing number of Sexual Transmitted Infections (STI) amongst MSM’s, this is mainly because we have focused primarily of HIV/Aids education and ignored STI’s, we are currently trying to work towards providing educational material on STI’s because are finding more MSM’s getting infected with STI’s.”

While acknowledging that many MSM’s in Kenya and elsewhere are reluctant to come out of the closet, Njane explained how they hoped to attract them to the event, “We have previously trained about 176 peer educators, and they all must come with a friend on the day for the training, so we are expecting quite a number of participants on Friday.” ISHTAR-MSM advances the sexual health rights MSM, Male sex workers and Transgendered men. This community is classified globally as the Most at Risk Population (MARPS) in relation to vulnerability to HIV/Aids and STIs.

According to a 2008 Modes of Transmission study conducted by UNAIDS and the government, MSM and prisoners account for 15.2 per cent of new HIV infections in Kenya annually. The report reads in part, “Current statistics suggests that HIV prevalence amongst MSM’s is at 15. 2 per cent which indicates that not enough is being done to respond to HIV infections amongst the MARPs.”

Underlining the need to stop discrimination against MSM, Njane said, “We gave recommendations on the National Aids Strategic plan, everything is on paper but nothing has been done on the ground. We mentioned that if they want to respond to the challenge of MSM HIV prevalence, government needs to work with organisations on the ground that are already doing the work. We have stressed the issue of funding over and over again. No organisation working with MSM’s in Kenya is funded by the government. As much as they give us condoms, we also need lubricants and various other things.”

The third Kenya National Aids Strategic Plan, which runs from 2009/2010 to 2012/2013, was launched in Nairobi, on January 12 last year. It aims to reduce new infections by at least 50 per cent over the next four years and focus more on MARPs. Sections 162 to 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code criminalise homosexual behaviour and attempted homosexual behaviour between men, which is referred to as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”. The penalty is five to 14 years’ imprisonment.

August 30th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

Kenyan LGBTI Witness A Resurgence Of Blackmail Incidents Involving Police

Blackmail and extortion of LGBTI people is a lucrative business for criminals. In Kenya, Behind the Mask’s Correspondent Melissa Wainaina heard from a lawyer dealing with the issue. Monica Mbaru is a sexual minority activist and lawyer and in the following interview speaks about the resurgence of blackmailers targeting members of the Kenyan LGBTI community. There have been three reported cases since September 2010. The latest incident occurred in August 2011. Most cases of the sort go unreported. Please tell us a little about the extortion incidents that have been targeted towards the LGBTI community in Kenya.

There is a resurgence of the blackmail of members of the Kenyan LGBTI community. There is a “cartel” consisting of individuals in cahoots with [members of] the police [force] who entrap people then proceed to accuse and threaten to charge them with sodomy if they do not pay up. The loot is then shared between the police and the complainant. So far we know of three incidents which occurred in the past year that involved blackmail. The latest occurred in August 2011 and involved a 40-year old man approaching *Chad, 33, a gay man, at his business establishment in Mlolongo on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The older man told Chad a sob story enabled him to spend the night at Chad’s house. In his story the man claimed an MPESA transaction (mobile money transfer) he was waiting for to complete his business deal with Chad and enable him get back to the city had fallen through. Chad offered him a place to stay the night in the spirit of being a Good Samaritan considering the late hour. He did not suspect anything was afoot. He offered the stranger a mattress to sleep on and went off to sleep.

In the morning, he woke to find the stranger outside the house on his cell phone speaking animatedly. He presumed the phone call had something to do with the delayed funds and his guest’s money situation. However, shortly the police arrived in a private car and the guest then pointed at Chad saying to the officers, “That’s the man. He’s the one who did it to me.” The police arrested Chad, bundled him into the car and drove past three police stations before taking him to the Athi River Police Station (in a town just outside of southern Nairobi). There Chad learnt he was being accused of sodomising his guest and the police wanted a bribe of Sh50,000 (about US$500) to make the accusations “go away.”

The pestering and harassment made Chad feel that he had no choice in the matter and he reluctantly agreed to look for the money. It was at this point he rang me to request that I witness an agreement for him that involved money. Once I realised that he was in a police station and the nature of the agreement, I came to his aid as his position was clearly illegal. When the police realised that Chad now had a lawyer they reduced the bribe to Sh5,000 (US$50), which we declined.

What happened next?

August 2011 – Gay Kenya Magazine

It has been a year. A year of starting something, of innovation, of the occasional ups and down. A year of contradictions, success and surprise.

One year ago, Gay Kenya began Kenya’s premier on-line newsletter/magazine named after it to be the monthly diet of compact news on LGBT in Kenya and around the world. Now, twelve issues later, we are pleased to bring you this month’s issue – The Anniversary Issue. We are celebrating the one year anniversary of Gay Kenya and we are happy that we have reached so far. This edition is a collectors edition. And we have worked to ensure that there is none like it.

I will not bore you with my summary version here; sometimes speaking less (or not) is better. However, due credit goes to the following contributors – Elphas Njeru; David Kuria; Mona Kareithi, MaqC Eric Gitau, Daughtie Ogutu, Eric Mawira Gitau, Umra Omra, Lindsay Lohan, Kate Kamunde, Kenne Mwikya, for their time and contributions. You made me proud. Then there are those who graced our covers like Prof. Makau Mutua or provided a blurb – Muthoni Wanyeki, Prof. Yash Pal Ghai, Paul Canning, and many more. They know themselves.

But ultimately, the greatest recognition goes to you all who have put up with this monthly e-mail from me with my jabbering and chatter. You are saints. You should be thankful I send only one issue! Finally, my thanks to my Gay Kenya family members and others who without, I would now be a Jesuit priest in a leper colony in India. Either that or driving a silver Chrysler, earning 100,000 dollars a month, living in Beverly Hills….with a pair of ulcers! All in all, I want to wish you all the best in every imaginable way. See you in September… hoping I am still around (-:

Denis Nzioka
PR, Media & Communications | Editor | Gay Kenya
P.O. Box 13005-00100 GPO, Nairobi-Kenya
Personal Cell : 0722 82 81 66 Office Cell: 0700 71 85 85
Skype: denis.nzioka | Email | Website

September 13th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

Kenyan Muslims Angered By Chief Justice’s Pro-Gay Rights Comment

by Melissa Wainaina
Kenyan Muslims want an apology from Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who recently said, “Gay rights are human rights,” during an official visit to neighbouring Uganda. In a story reported by the Star, a leading Kenyan newspaper, the Chief Justice (CJ) made the remarks on Thursday last week (September 8, 2011) while officiating at the opening of offices for the International Federation of Women lawyers, FIDA, in Uganda offices.

The newspaper reported the CJ saying, “The other frontier of marginalisation is the gay rights movement. Gay rights are human rights. Here, I am simply confining my statement in the context of human rights and social justice paradigm and avoiding the controversies that exist in our constitutions and various legislations.” The Star reported that on reading the remarks, the chairman of the Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council, Sheikh Juma Ngao responded saying that the CJ’s remarks were “demeaning” to the Islamic and Christian faiths.

The Sheikh was quoted as saying, “Gayism [sic] is inhuman. It is not a human right. If it were, then the Koran and the Bible would not have condemned it. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of the vice. When he says that, what message is he passing to our school going children?” Sheikh Ngao proceeded to say that Muslims across Kenya were worried about Chief Justice Mutunga’s statement and that it had taken the country backwards to “the Stone Age era.” Sheikh Ngao said what was needed was ways to “humanise gays by advising them to change their ways.”

The Muslim leader is demanding that the Kenya government should release a statement on the issue. When he was nominated to the post of Chief Justice in May 2011, Mutunga who wears an earring and as a Ford Foundation executive, funded gay organisations in the Kenya was opposed by religious organisations. During his confirmation hearings Mutunga was asked publicly if he was gay; he replied that he was not, but stated unequivocal support for the rights of those who were.

28 October, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

New lube aimed at LGBTI set to hit Kenyan maket

Glide, a new locally made personal lubricant is set to hit the Kenyan market and it is aimed particularly at the LGBTI market is set to launch in Nairobi soon. Personal lubricant, or lube, is a specialised lubricant used during sexual acts such as intercourse and masturbation to reduce friction with the vagina, anus, penis or other body parts. Lube can also be used for medical purposes. Behind The Mask’s Arcus Correspondent in Nairobi, Melissa Wainaina, spoke to Angus Parkinson in about the new Kenyan water-based lubricant.

Angus Parkinson has been an active supporter of the LGBTI rights movement in Kenya since 2005 when he initiated the first formal HIV and sexual health programmes for gay, bi and other MSM at Liverpool VCT in Nairobi. Whilst working with LVCT, he also established the first toll-free, confidential, peer-to-peer youth sexuality hotline, ‘One-2-One’, and a comprehensive HIV programme for male prisoners.

Since 2008, he has been working independently and has supported the work of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, the Elton John Aids Foundation (UK), UHAI (EASHRI), amfAR, and the UNDP, amongst others. He is a qualified nurse and holds an LLM from the University of Keele.

The following are excerpts of the interview:
Please share with us the genesis of Glide lubricant why is it significant to LGBTI?

Glide is a 100 per cent condom-safe, non-toxic, non-sticky, water-based lubricant made in Kenya. It’s been in development for almost two years and having just received approval from the Kenya Bureau of Standards, we’ve begun providing samples to local NGOs and Community Based Organisations (CBOs). The need for a locally produced water-based lube has been apparent to all of us working with gay, bi and other MSM since HIV programmes started (for us and by us) some five years ago in Nairobi.

We were telling guys “you must use water-based lubes with condoms when having anal sex” but in reality, whilst condoms were available, affordable water-based lubes weren’t. Organisations such as Liverpool VCT were spending large amounts of money importing lubes from South Africa and the UK. This is how conversations began about creating a local lube. After discussions with a local cosmetics producer, EPCC, based in Nairobi, we began ‘experimenting’ with various formulations, packaging and so on until we hit on formula number 7! Long-lasting, non-sticky and pleasant smelling! Thus Glide was born! (I won’t go in to detail about the testing of the various other formulations but I can tell you it was great fun!).

Whilst I’ve personally taken the lead on this project, in truth this is essentially a community initiative – the community recognised the need early on and pushed for a local solution.

View original article here

October 29, 2011 – Salon

Gay Africans flee persecution – As Uganda revives anti-gay legislation, gays seek haven in other countries

by Naomi Abraham
I first met Fred at a prayer service for gay men in an industrial part of Nairobi where even on a Sunday morning, the noise was deafening. The service was part biblical study and part support group. The other men who were worshipping with Fred in the dingy and cavernous room that day were Kenyans, but he was not.

Fred, a lanky Ugandan, became a refugee in December 2009 after he was brutally assaulted by a mob in Kampala for being gay. Fred, who asked that his last name not be used, bought a one-way ticket to Nairobi days after the assault with the intention of never returning. “It’s OK to kill me,” he said. “People would be happy to see me dead, even some of my family.” I asked what he meant by OK, and he explained that no one would ever have to pay a price for his murder.

Within the last decade, rancorous anti-gay rhetoric has infiltrated public discourse in many African countries. Just last week, the Ugandan parliament revived a proposal to legalize capital punishment for people who engage in homosexual acts. This is new for Africa. In the past, homosexuality was rarely brought up privately let alone in the public sphere. The new acrimonious tone against homosexuality espoused by politicians and religious leaders has percolated across all strata of African society including the media. It has also given rise to increasing homophobic and transphobic violence, which for a growing number of gay Africans has meant that life in their own countries has become untenable.

Fred’s journey from Uganda to Kenya followed the same logic as that of other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) African refugees I spoke to. They move to urban centers in neighboring countries not necessarily because these places are any less hostile to homosexuals but for the anonymity that comes with being a newcomer in a densely populated area.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, went on record last May saying that anti-gay hate crimes are increasing around the world and now account for a high percentage of all reported hate crimes. Homophobia is not necessarily a new attitude for most African societies. Being gay is a crime in 38 of the 54 countries in Africa. Many of these laws have been on the books since colonial times. But it’s a stretch to think, as some have claimed, that homophobia is simply a vestige of colonial times.

Read complete article here

November 03, 2011 – The Bay Area Reporter

Kenyan ex-pat aims to help gay countrymen

by Heather Cassell
A backlash is hitting LGBT Africans who are courageous enough to stand up against blackmail attempts by authorities and governments attempting to criminalize individuals attracted to members of the same sex. The African experience brought Kenyan LGBT activist and political asylee Lourence “Larry” Misedah to San Francisco last month with Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Johnson and Misedah, who fled his native country to neighboring Uganda for eight months during 2007-2008 only to return and leave again to begin a new life the United States in 2010, sat down for a conversation with the Bay Area Reporter October 23. The 28-year-old Kenyan expatriate now resides in Houston thanks to the help of international LGBT activist friends. He discussed the plight of African LGBT activists and the state of Kenya and Uganda’s gay rights movements. Prior to leaving his home country, Misedah worked for six years with HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights organizations after he publicly came out at the World Social Forum in Nairobi in 2007.

Misedah was in the Bay Area on behalf of IGLHRC to attend a fundraiser, where he spoke about his experiences. About 70 people attended the event; Johnson was unsure how much money was raised.

Roar of the lion
Africa’s LGBT rights movement continues to heat up throughout the continent as severe anti-gay legislation continues to be introduced in various nations, a backlash to gains made by LGBT activists within the past half-dozen years, Johnson said. Compounding the LGBT movement in Africa is international pressure, most recently by the U.S. and Britain. Within the past several weeks the British government has proposed decreasing funding to nations that violate LGBT human rights and called to legalize homosexuality in its 54 former commonwealths. Many of the nations inherited anti-gay laws when under British rule.

“The British government did not consult with us,” said Misedah, concerned about how the U.K. government’s actions will affect LGBT Africans.

Read complete article here

16 November, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Identity Magazine, Kenya’s LGBT & Sex Work Magazine, Sophomore Issue, Nov 2011

Dear Identity Magazine reader,

I am excited to bring you our sophomore issue! A month ago, Identity premiered to good review and coverage that helped it gain a wide readership and subscribers base. This is commendable. I thank you and welcome the comments, suggestions, constructive criticism I received on the premier issue. Our sophomore issue is longer (to satisfy your reading thirst) as well as compact with good articles and quality photo work. This issue is a longer read with extra pages and extra extra articles and stories. We hope it delivers. As always, you are welcome to send us your opinion on it in order to make subsequent issues better.

My thanks to the many contributors of this issue with whose help this issue would not have been possible. To them I owe a heartfelt thank you. And to you, my reader, who once again can enjoy reading this magazine. I am sending you Identity in an online version (better read with the feel of page turning) and this can be accessed HERE

Again, personal thank you to all who have made this issue possible.

For advertising, sales and article contributions, please e-mail the Editor

With the best,

Denis Nzioka,
Chief Editor,
Identity Magazine

View original article here