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.


Related Stories:

What Does Anti-LGBT Prejudice Feel Like? (Video)

Why Schools Need To Teach About Sexuality & LGBT History

An LGBT History Lesson: People Who Changed History


Photo from fwooper via flickr


Huber F.
Huber F4 years ago


Kevin Cline
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you

Tara B.
Tara B5 years ago

@ Tara A. - - I believe the "I" stands for intersex.

Tara A.
Tara A5 years ago

And now a "Q"? My bi-sexual daughter has only used the LGBT as far as I know. Help?

Thanks again!

Tara A.
Tara A5 years ago

Great for them! Equality for all is imperative.

One thing though. I thought I knew all orientations, but I don't know what the "I" stands for at the end of the LGBT"I". I hadn't seen it written like that before. If anyone knows I'd appreciate the education. Thanks! :D

John B.
John B5 years ago

Just when I feel that GLBTQ rights here in the US aren't advancing as fast as I would like I read and article like this and count my blessings. All my best wishes to the GLBTQ community in Kenya.

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

I'm loving all the great steps being taken in Africa these days.

Catherine Hess
Catherine Hess5 years ago

Thanks for this. Great to hear about these activists and their hard work.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago


Aimee A.
Aimee A5 years ago

Thanks for posting!