Kenyan Activists Struggle for LGBTI Decriminalization
Written by Melissa Wainaina
The Kenya LGBTI community is set to mark IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia, on May 17. The theme this year is Speak up, Speak out.
Kenya’s national coalition GALCK, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya will observe the day with an event and key note addresses at the Go Down in Nairobi from 3-7pm.
Speaking to the General Manager MaqC Gitau of GALCK regarding the significance of this fete he said,
This year, GALCK joins LGBTI persons in Kenya and the rest of the world to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. In line with our theme this year, “Speak Up, Speak Out,” I’d like to challenge the different ones of us who have a platform to tell the story of sexual and gender diversity to encompass diversity in our approach.
Echoing the words of Chimamanda Adichie, MaqC added,
Quite often the single stories from the news articles, movie characters, jokes made in schools, religiously and politically instigated opinions, become the definitive story of a lesbian lady, gay man, bisexual person, or a transgender person somewhere. A single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
Conversations on sexual and gender issues must be multi- faceted and balanced. There are numerous stories that should be told that have remained just that: untold. Visibility matters. We know that visibility can break the dignity of a people, but we are saying today that speaking up and speaking out can also repair that broken dignity.
Part of the planned activities also include the launch of a music album by Kate Kamunde from one of GALCK’s member groups AFRA-Kenya. Kate is a human rights activist and serves as the spokesperson for AFRA — Kenya, a LBT group that carries out advocacy activities through art expression.
Kate, who identifies openly as a queer woman in Kenya, says her focus is on bringing queer women’s challenges into the public consciousness from a human rights, health and socio-cultural perspective:
About this album well the CD has three singles on it. My work addresses stigma of being a sexual minority in my country and encourages society to let people live their lives, refrain from harming sexual minorities. I have also touched on society ills such as drugs, young girls used for sex trade, our leaders who bribe us during election to get back power while we continue suffering. My work also encourages women lovers to come out and proudly live and let live.
The LGBTI community in Kenya remains mostly criminalised and stigmatised. Sexual minority rights activists continue with the struggle to seek the decriminalization and legal recognition of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Photo from fwooper via flickr