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LGBT Ugandan Refugees Face Persecution, Unemployment Difficulties In Kenya

Ugandans fleeing from the country to avoid its brutal, discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act are finding the cultural climate no less hostile into neighboring Kenya, according to their accounts. Legalized in February before more recently being struck down on a technicality, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act criminalized a variety of behaviors and threatened lifetime imprisonment for those found in violation. Hoping to avoid persecution, many LGBT identified Ugandans fled to Kenyan refugee camps hoping to find a more accepting, if temporary, home.

3489571906_f6bfb32682_z"The reaction shocked me. I went there. I thought it would be a celebration, but ... nothing," Brizan Ogollan explained to the Huffington Post."They knew at an international level and at the diplomatic level, the decision is going to have impact, but at the local level, it won't really. You can overrule the law, but you can't overrule the mind."

Ogollan runs an international aid organization that coordinates with the Kakuma refugee camp. Kakuma, whose name in Swahili means “nowhere” is known as a transitional camp through which many refugees pass on their way to their permanent resettlements. Kenyan society, Ogollan says, is no less homophobic than Uganda’s.

Like in Uganda, homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, and LGBT Ugandan refugees are faced with ostracization both for their sexual and gender presentations as well as their status as displaced people. Queer Ugandans report facing open aggression within the camps and persistent difficulty finding work within Kenyan cities.

The United Nations' refugee agency has taken note of the difficulties facing the refugees and has expressed its intention to expedite the relocations of the 35 Ugandan refugees officially registered as LGBT with the U.N.


Kenya Drafts 'Stone The Gays' Bill

Kenya gay protest

Taking their cues from Uganda, The Republican Liberty Party of Kenya has drafted their very own version of the "Kill the Gays" bill that calls for public death by stoning for "aggravated homosexuality," which is defined as "committing the acts with people below 18 years, if the offender is a person living with HIV, if those persons committing the act are persons in authority over their victims, serial offenders and where a victim is a person with a disability."

For regular old sodomy, Kenyan nationals would be subjected to life in prison. Foreigners, however, would be administered the death penalty by the aforementioned public stoning. As has been seen before in Uganda, Russia, and the U.S., the reprehensible human beings behind this approval of institutionalized murder don't have the fortitude of character to just admit they are gay-hating xenophobes and are instead hiding behind children and families. The petitioner states:

There is need to protect children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technology, parentless child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care or otherwise.

Fortunately, this is just a draft bill and is still under parliamentary consideration, but the fact that it was submitted in the first place is frightening enough. Time will tell if this fizzles into nothing or if Kenya is determined to be as atavistic as Uganda and what the fallout from it all will be.


60 Arrested In Raid On Gay Bar In Nairobi, Kenya

  Nairobi kenya

More than 60 people were arrested over the weekend during a raid on a gay bar in Nairobi, Kenya, reports Africa New Post.

Although there have been no moves to increase penalties for homosexuals in Kenya, the country’s penal code prescribes up to 14 years in prison for men who commit “acts of gross indecency” with other men or for any person who acts “against the order of nature.” A man was stoned to death in Nairobi in 2012 after he was discovered having sex with a co-worker.

According to Ghafla.co.ke, the arrests at Club Envy were made because of the bar patrons’ sexuality and not under Kenya’s Mututho law which restricts drinking hours and regulates the consumption of alcohol.

Speaking to Ghafla, Joji Baro, a well-known performer in the city, said:

“The arrests at Envy had nothing to do with Mututho law but just trying to suppress the visibility of gays and lesbians. So finally someone just realized gays and lesbians have money and they know where to spend it... Just a reminder of the little rights we enjoy."

The website reports that the arrests came after the government “sent their security apparatus to harass innocent homosexuals who were not even taking part in any buggery but rather enjoying their hard earned money.”

No information has been released regarding the charges faced by the detainees.


Homosexuality A 'Social Evil' As Serious As Terrorism According To Kenyan MP

Anti-gay Africa

Africa is perhaps the least hospitable continent for homosexuals, which is actually illegal in 37 countries and is subject to widespread taboos, thanks in no small part to the dissemination of lies and stoking of hatred from evil religious evangelical lunatics like Scott "The Nazis were gay" Lively and Martin "Eat da poo-poo" Ssempa.

While Uganda is one of the most hostile, Kenya is not far behind. Since 2010, 595 cases of homosexuality have been investigated, according to MP Aden Duale. In an assembly with other MPs, Duale even said that "gayism" and "lesbianism" are "as serious as terrorism," a level of educated insight that harkens back to the days of Oklahoma representative Sally Kern.

However, Duale responded to calls for tougher laws to penalize homosexuality by saying that the Kenyan constitution and penal code were sufficient, and that the decision to not follow Uganda's methods was in no way influenced by the fact that international donors have suspended aid to Uganda in response to their treatment of homosexuals.


Kenyan Majority Leader to Investigate Why Laws Criminalizing Homosexuality Aren't Being Enforced

After three Kenyan MPs demanded to know why laws criminalizing homosexuality aren't being enforced sufficiently, the Leader of the Majority Coalition in the National Assembly, Aden Duale, is being directed to issue a report on the matter to the House, All Africa reports.

DualeDuale said he would need more than one month to investigate and file a report in the House, terming it a controversial issue.

“I need to make trips both to the neighbouring countries and to more developed nations, because I need to consult across the borders how this thing can be handled,” stated the Majority Leader. “Mr Speaker you will indulge me if by one and half months I will not have an answer then you will give two or three years.”

Kangata said that in spite of the existence of prohibitions on homosexual behaviour, gays have had leverage to operate with impunity in Kenya as the State appears helpless in cracking down on what they insist are illegalities.

He cited the provisions of Section 162 of the Penal Code, which prohibits same-sex relations and provides a jail term of not less than 14 years for those convicted of the felony.

The three MPs who demanded the investigation last month were prompted by pro-gay rallies in Nairobi and Mombasa in support of gays in Uganda.


Kenya May Be Uniquely Ripe for Advances in Gay Rights

Protest_kenya
Gay rights activists in Kenya protest Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill.

BY JACOB KUSHNER / GlobalPost

An increasingly supportive church and other signs suggest Kenya may be departing from its neighbors in the region by accepting homosexuality.

NAIROBI, Kenya — For years, homosexuality was as unlawful in Kenya as it was in neighboring Uganda or in Nigeria — countries where anti-gay sentiment is growing.

Kenya’s penal code prescribes up to 14 years in prison for men who commit “acts of gross indecency” with other men or for any person who acts “against the order of nature.” It’s the same maximum sentence that existed in Nigeria, and seven years greater than what was until recently the maximum punishment in Uganda.

Uganda’s parliament passed a law making “aggravated homosexuality” a crime punishable by life imprisonment. The Ugandan president said on Friday that he plans to sign the bill. President Obama on Sunday condemned the move, and warned “such discrimination could harm its relationship with the United States.”

In January, Nigeria’s president signed a law that also orders that homosexuals be imprisoned for life and even makes gatherings of homosexuals illegal, including those held by advocacy or rights organizations. The law has already led to numerous arrests.

But in Kenya no such attempt has been made to reduce legal protections for gays, and many Kenyans seem increasingly willing to accept homosexuality as a fact of life, or to move beyond political posturing over the subject altogether.

WainainaA public discussion of homosexuality surfaced here last month following a Twitter argument between an anti-gay publisher of a prominent law and business journal and a Nairobi professor who defends gay rights. In response to the debate, renowned Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina made headlines when he came out publicly by publishing a short story entitled, "I am a homosexual, mum."

“In Nairobi, Binyavanga is walking around very freely and casually, almost like a hero,” said Tom Odhiambo, a Professor of Literature at the University of Nairobi and editor of a new collection of stories by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Kenyans. “He could not do that in Lagos (Nigeria).”

Last week, a group of gay rights activists released a new book, which brings accounts by gay Kenyans into the public sphere, on the premise that the time is now opportune for Kenyan society to accept homosexuality. Some 250 people crowded into a German cultural institute in Nairobi to launch Invisible: Stories from Kenya’s Queer Community.

Invisible“What this book means for me as a gay Kenyan man is that it brings out the invisible,” said one man who attended the book launch. “I can talk about being a gay man, but there are people who cannot talk about their gayness because they can face serious challenges for that.”

Kevin Mwachiro, the journalist and gay rights activist who edited the book, said the success of a gay film festival held here in 2011 and a high turnout at the 2007 World Social Forum in Nairobi, where homosexuality was discussed, “showed that the space was ripe” for such a book.

“We still have a bloated human rights record, and we still do not treat our women very well. But that five, six percent GDP growth is nothing if people still don’t have the freedom to be themselves,” “Mwachiro said. “Africa is changing. Africa is ripe.”

A standout on a continent that widely views homosexuality as ‘un-African

Africa and the Middle East remain the world’s most LGBT-adverse regions, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center.

Though rarely enforced, the legal punishment for acts of homosexuality in three African countries is death. Homosexuality remains a crime in 38 African nations and “Homophobic attacks and harassment across sub-Saharan Africa are becoming more visible,” according to a report last year by Amnesty International.

The most prominent of these attacks occurred in 2010 in Uganda, which borders Kenya to the west. Two documentary films recently captured how Evangelical Christians from the United States and elsewhere are inspiring anti-gay fervor in Uganda.

“The evangelicals from the West know that that is their window, and they’re using that to promote their anti-homosexual agenda,” said Reverend John Makokha, director of a Kenyan gay rights alliance.

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