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Sexual minorities in Kenya.

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Advocating for the rights of sexual minorities is and continues to be a long and challenging battle in Africa and especially in Kenya. I am referring to the lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. These are people that have been marginalised in an all round way it terms of access to basic rights accorded to every other human being.

Access to health services for instance has been one of the difficult areas. Why is it that the medical/health practitioners are so discriminative while dealing with homosexual individuals and couples? This has led to preference to over the counter self prescribed medication. How will we win the battle against HIV/AIDS when we intentionally abandon the gay community in Kenya? There is no consideration of the heterosexual men and women, married and single that engage in sexual relations with members of the homosexual community therefore increasing the risk of infection on their other partners! The statistics are simply alarming!

When it comes to mental health or emotional well being then we handle issues such as 'coming out' to oneself, family and friends. When members of the community come out to those who matter most in their lives, the first response is being referred to church elders and psychological counselors who do their best to counsel the LGBTI persons in their bid to correct their 'abnormalities' or 'unnatural behavior!' This is very wrong.

Coming out in itself is distressing and a time when they experience all sorts of reactions from the people they come out to. It is a time when they get to deal with who they are (coming out to themselves). During this process and due to stress, anxiety and so on, most of them end up spending most of their time in bars, engaging in unprotected sex and abusing drugs. When we talk about Intravenous Drug Users (IDU's) this section of the society carries large numbers of drug abusers.

Our main aim here is to identify friendly health institutions where we could refer the LGBTI community to enable and encourage them to be frequent visitors in hospitals and in getting to know their HIV status by getting tested.

Marriage between the same-sex community in Kenya is NOT a priority at the moment...HEALTH is!

As a woman who is a former educator turned activist, performing artist, writer and administrator who has been brought up by a single mother, her passion is driven around by issues such as these...eventually hoping that with recognition and acceptance the LGBTI community will be visible and looked at in a different perspective. As human beings, citizens, our sons and daughters - not sex addicts! Our doctors, lawyers, nurses, journalists, farmers, musicians and all.

This is her call...one that comes with so much personal insecurity and branding for taking a path that few have dared step! One that has created more enemies than friends, but one that is worth the while!

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Comments

Carri Pence's picture

It is sad to see that sexual

It is sad to see that sexual minorities everywhere are ignored for social justice and are, as you illustrated, denied proper care when it comes to health. What can be done is a society that looks down on sexual minorities, where even here, in the US, you see the law crippling LGBT rights. I am curious about the stories in Kenya about LGBT rights and I hope you can keep me updated. I hope you can inform me on other challenges that LGBT rights face in Kenya, and Africa as a whole. Thanks so much.

-Carri Pence

Sparkles's picture

Thanks Carri

Thank you for the comments Carri!

Most problems experienced in Kenya are replicated in other African countries, only that the magnitude in which they occur may differ. However, we are in the process of networking with closeted LGBTI communities that are in the rural areas. We also have 50+ year old men and women, trans gender and intersex persons that have been there before us and we are also reaching out to them to find out exactly what was happening back in the days!

Challenges are that some have preferred to remain discreet and gone to lengths such as getting married to the opposite sex (at least to prove that they are 'normal)...while they continue leading unhappily!

You're welcome and have a lovely day!

In Solidarity,
Kate Kamunde (K8),
Founder/Program Associate
Artists For Recognition and Acceptance (AFRA-Kenya)
P.O. Box 13005-00100,
Nairobi - Kenya.
Cell: +254 738 550 095

"Spreading love, justice, peace and acceptance through the power of ART"

katharinejoann's picture

I think that focusing on

I think that focusing on things that can effect meaningful change - like health education in Kenya - is a meaningful first step to take. Placing health education as a priority above battling for marriage equality will help to inform everyone - not just the LGBT community - about the needs and rights of particular disease communities and risks. I applaud you for embracing this community as I do in the US, and I hope that your struggle does not meet as many hurdles as it may have in the past. Please keep me updated on LGBT issues in Kenya, a topic that the media definitely tends to ignore. Best of luck to you!

Katharine Relth, MA
Researcher | Media Analyst | Writer
twitter.com/katharinejoann

Sparkles's picture

Thank you...

Good morning Katharine,

Thank you very much for your comment. The health issue has been one that we have time and time again emphasized on because whenever there is a mention of homosexuality, it is associated with lobbying for same-sex marriages. We are glad that in our engagement with the media, some houses have began to write about the challenges faced by the sexual minorities from a positive perspective....

Of course the battle is far from over...but these baby steps will eventually get us there!

...and I will sure keep you posted on those issues! Thank you for being part of the same in the US!

Aluta continua!

In Solidarity

K8

In Solidarity,
Kate Kamunde (K8),
Founder/Program Associate
Artists For Recognition and Acceptance (AFRA-Kenya)
P.O. Box 13005-00100,
Nairobi - Kenya.
Cell: +254 738 550 095

"Spreading love, justice, peace and acceptance through the power of ART"

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