With ball gowns and dance, LGBT+ refugees in Kenya cast aside woes to celebrate

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06/27/2019

LGBT+ refugees in Kenya – some dressed in sequined ball gowns and slinky black evening dresses – cast aside their troubles on Thursday to eat lunch, dance to Congolese rumba and celebrate their second International LGBTQI Refugee Day. After staging the first event in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp last year, several East African refugees were beaten and others had their shelters deliberately torched, forcing the United Nations to relocate some 200 people to Nairobi for safety. “It would be wonderful to go out onto the Nairobi streets like people in Europe and celebrate who we are, especially on Pride Month. But it’s not safe so we have to celebrate like this,” said Obote, 40, a bi-sexual IT professional from Uganda. “This community is facing tough times, but we still have come here today. I applaud my community for showing resilience despite all the problems. If I had one wish on this special day, I would wish for acceptance.” The event was held at a safe house on the outskirts of Nairobi, capital of the east African nation, where gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. Yet the law is rarely enforced and Kenya is seen as more tolerant than its neighbours.

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