It wasn't long after Joe's father was shot dead for being gay that the 24-year-old Ugandan college student realised the men from his church would be coming for him next. First came the anonymous phone calls in the dead of night. Then the chilling text messages detailing how he would be "hunted down". It was only after he was attacked and lay bruised and bleeding in a public toilet that Joe fled to Kenya. But four years on, the country he believed would be a safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) refugees like himself has been more like a living hell. He walks the streets of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in constant fear of arrest. He is frequently evicted from his lodgings. And with no means of income, he is forced to sell sex for 200 shillings ($2) through gay dating apps. "I try and get through one day at a time. But I don't see a future ahead for me," said Joe, now 28, who did not want to reveal his real name.
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. Government authorities did not effectively enforce many of these provisions, and discrimination against women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; individuals with HIV/AIDS; persons with disabilities; persons suspected of witchcraft; and certain... Expand
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. Government authorities did not effectively enforce many of these provisions, and discrimination against women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; individuals with HIV/AIDS; persons with disabilities; persons suspected of witchcraft; and certain ethnic groups was a problem. There was also evidence that some national and local government officials tolerated, and in some instances instigated, ethnic violence. The law criminalizes homosexual activity.
The constitution does not explicitly protect LGBT persons from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The penal code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” which is interpreted to prohibit consensual same-sex sexual activity and specifies a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. A separate statute specifically criminalizes sex between men and specifies a maximum penalty of 21 years’ imprisonment. Police detained persons under these laws, particularly suspected sex workers, but released them shortly afterward. Statistics presented in the National Assembly in March indicated police had opened files on 595 “unnatural offenses” cases since 2010, including 49 in 2014. According to a 2014 report issued by the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, between 2012 and 2014 there were eight prosecutions of gay men on indecency charges.
LGBT organizations reported police more frequently used public order laws (e.g., disturbing the peace) than same-sex legislation to arrest LGBT individuals. Police frequently harassed, intimidated, or physically abused LGBT individuals in custody.
Authorities permitted LGBT advocacy organizations to register and conduct activities. There were reports, however, that some organizations registered under modified platforms to avoid being denied registration by the government.
Legal efforts by Mbugua, born Andrew Mbugua, to change her legal name and gender identity continued.
Violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals was widespread. According to a report by journalist Denis Nzioka during the year, LGBT individuals were especially vulnerable to blackmail and rape by police officers and individuals who used LBGT websites to locate victims. LGBT individuals were especially vulnerable to harassment, intimidation, and discrimination in employment, occupation, education, and housing. Human rights and LGBT rights organizations noted that victims were extremely reluctant to report abuse or seek redress. According to a 2011 study, The Outlawed Amongst Us, by the Kenya Human Rights Commission, 89 percent of LGBT individuals who revealed their sexual orientation were disowned by family and friends. There were reports of forced “medical examination” of LGBT individuals by the police and of forced medical treatment or exorcism to “treat” LGBT individuals.
During the year an “antigay” caucus was formed in parliament, although its only action was to inquire why the government had not taken stronger action against LGBT individuals and organizations. The National Assembly majority leader stated that homosexuality was as serious an issue as terrorism but resisted calls for new anti-LGBT legislation. Several NGOs conducted anti-LGBT political campaigns, including one that announced a drive to collect one million signatures on a petition against homosexuality. While these campaigns resulted in scattered demonstrations, they did not attract widespread support.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights Report
Ezekiel Mutua, the head of Kenya’s Film Classification Board, didn’t want Kenyans to see Wanuri Kahiu’s internationally acclaimed film Rafiki. After watching the film, I can see why. Mutua’s venomous attitude toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is no secret. Since becoming head of the film board in 2015, he has waged war against a series of artistic endeavors and events related to LGBT issues. So it came as no surprise when Mutua banned Rafiki, a love story involving two young women whose fathers are pitted against one another in a local election, even after the film became Kenya’s first to be screened at Cannes, drawing plaudits from global audiences. He claimed the film would “promote lesbianism.”
Parties involved in a court case seeking to decriminalize gay sex in Kenya will be allowed to make submissions based on a recent decision by India’s top court to overturn a ban on gay sex, a Kenyan court said on Thursday. India’s top court on Sept. 6 scrapped a colonial-era law that punished gay sex with up to 10 years in jail, raising hopes among activists worldwide, including in Africa, for similar reforms elsewhere. The constitutional division of Kenya’s High Court will hear submissions from both parties on Oct. 25 on the relevance of India’s decision to Kenya, given that both countries have shared the law - dating back to the days of British colonial rule - that criminalizes “sexual acts against the order of nature”.
Parties involved in a court case seeking to decriminalize gay sex in Kenya will be allowed to make submissions based on a recent decision by India’s Supreme Court to overturn a ban on gay sex, a Kenyan court said on Thursday. India’s Supreme Court on Sept. 6 scrapped a colonial-era law that punished gay sex with up to 10 years in jail, raising hopes among activists worldwide, including in Africa, for similar reforms elsewhere. The constitutional division of Kenya’s High Court will hear submissions from both parties on Oct. 25 on the relevance of India’s decision to Kenya, given that both countries have shared the law - dating back to the days of British colonial rule - that criminalizes “sexual acts against the order of nature”. Homosexuality is taboo across much of Africa and gay people face discrimination or persecution.
A Kenyan judge has temporarily lifted the ban on Wanuri Kahiu’s “Rafiki,” paving the way for the LGBT love story – which premiered in Cannes – to be submitted for the foreign-language Oscar race. In her ruling, Judge Wilfrida Okwany said Friday she was “not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.” She added that “one of the reasons for artistic creativity is to stir the society’s conscience even on very vexing topics such as homosexuality,” which, she noted, “did not begin with ‘Rafiki.’”
A battle in Kenya’s courts to throw out a British colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex has been reinvigorated after India scrapped similar legislation in a landmark ruling last week, LGBT rights campaigners said on Wednesday. Homosexuality is taboo in the east African nation and the persecution of sexual minorities is rife. Under sections of Kenya’s penal code, gay sex - or “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” - is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
An eight-part podcast series looking into the experiences of “queer Africans living, loving, thriving and surviving on the continent and in the diaspora” recently hit the virtual world. Titled AfroQueer, the weekly series covers topics such as law, migration, film, race, censorship, family and sex. The series is put together by an African queer-focused digital media organization None on Record. Selly Thiam, the series’ executive producer, explains why a podcast was the chosen medium. “We wanted to tell more stories and didn’t really want to do it through video, which can be really time-consuming. And because a lot of us [at None on Record] consume a lot of podcasts, it was kind of just an organic idea to do [it] this way.” Aida Holly-Nambi, None on Records’ arts and culture director, is one of the series’ producers and reporters. “The beauty of podcasts is that, when it comes to consuming queer African stories, there is a safety in being able to listen privately through your headphones without people knowing what you’re listening to. So, for those of us [who are in places] where safety is a concern.”
Kenya is beginning to recognize people who identify as intersex, meaning they are born with genitalia, chromosomes or reproductive organs that don’t fit the typical definitions of male or female. A major step came recently when a government body, the Registrar of Societies of Kenya, acknowledged intersex people as a society. Despite the step, intersex Kenyans say they battle prejudice and stigma related to their sexual orientation. Ryan Muiruri says he is intersex and has faced challenges since the day he was born 28 years ago.
Approximately 600 people showed up for the first pride event held at one of the world's largest refugee camps. The Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya held its first LGBTQ pride event on Saturday, but now the event’s organizers are in fear for their lives. After the event, which organizers said drew approximately 600 people, threatening messages were “pinned all over the camp on notice boards,” according to Mbazira Moesa, a Ugandan refugee and one of the event’s organizers.
A group of LGBT refugees have been attacked and been sent death threats after they held a Pride event in their refugee camp. A group of refugees have faced physical violence and death threats from other camp members following the first Pride parade in the camp at the weekend. Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp is home to many LGBT refugees who have fled their home countries due to fear of homophobic persecution.
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