LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya face the threat of deportation if proposed anti-homosexuality laws are passed in parliament.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Kenya, but the the Family Protection Bill 2023 would expand upon these laws, meaning LGBTQ+ people would face life sentences for simply identifying as themselves.
If passed, the bill would impose a jail term of no less than five years on people found guilty of assembling, picketing, promoting or supporting LGBTQ-specific activities.
This would be dire not only for Kenyans, but refugees as well. The proposed bill would also allow for “the expulsion of refugees and asylum seekers” who identify as LGBTQ+.
Kenya is home to half a million refugees in camps across the country from Kakuma and Dadaab, according to Washington Blade. Refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya are mainly from Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, countries that have endured war, famine and economic instability.
Prior to this bill, Kenya was the only country in the region accepting refugee and asylum seekers without asking about their sexuality.
Recently, however, there have been increased attacks against LGBTQ+ people in the camps, especially in Kakuma, Kenya’s largest camp.
A report conducted by the Organisation for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM) found that 83 per cent of LGBTQ+ refugees at Kakuma experienced physical violence due to their sexual orientation, with 26 per cent reporting sexual assault.
The report includes the horrific experience of a trans refugee living in the camps, who shared that they were forced to have sex with a woman.
“They forced me to have sex with the lady. They then lectured me on the need to get married and have children of my own. They left me traumatized. Two days later they asked the lady to come and stay with me as my wife.
“That is when I escaped from the block and moved to live with a friend in an area far from my allocated shelter. I did not report the incident since I was afraid the police would equally stigmatise me for who I am.”
There are currently 300 LGBTQ+ refugees in Kakuma who have started an online petition, pleading with the Kenyan government to stamp out discrimination and address the mistreatment they’ve been dealing with in the camps.
The petition reads: “As refugees who have sought safety and refuge from conflict and persecution, we should not have to endure further suffering and discrimination within the confines of the camp. Yet, this is the reality for many of us.
“We are subjected to brutal attacks and physical violence from fellow refugees who hold homophobic views, leaving us with deep wounds and scars that often result in physical disability. Some of our community members have even lost their lives in these attacks.”
The proposed bill will only worsen their lives and leave them with nowhere to go.
This shocking new bill comes after Kenya’s Supreme Court recently ruled in favour of an LGBTQ+ rights group.
President of Kenya William Ruto, however, slammed this ruling and said: “It is not possible for our country Kenya to allow same-sex marriages … It will happen in other countries but not in Kenya.”
Anti-homosexuality laws have increased across the African continent as more countries introduce oppressive laws that target LGBTQ+ people.
Uganda has been leading the charge against queer people with their Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which could see people jailed or executed for committing “homosexual acts”.
by Danai Nesta Kupemba
Source – PinkNews