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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

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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.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Kenya May Be Uniquely Ripe for Advances in Gay Rights" »


Kenyan MPs To Demand Enforcement of Laws Criminalizing Homosexuality

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Members of Kenya’s parliament are upset that the nation’s anti-gay laws are not being enforced to an extent they find sufficiently draconian and have thus decided to question their Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko (pictured above) and Attorney General Githu Muigai in an attempt to find answers and redirect public policy on the subject. According to Standard Media:

The legislators say that in spite of the existence of the law banning homosexual behaviour, gays have had leverage to operate with impunity as the State appears helpless in cracking down on what they insist are outlaws. 

Three MPs allied to Jubilee [a four party political coalition] last evening convened a Press conference where they announced their plan to summon the two and also launched an anti-gay caucus of parliamentarians. 

MPs Irungu Kangata (Kiharu), John Njoroge (Kasarani) and Julius Ndegwa (Lamu West) said they were appalled by recent activities of pro- gay groups demonstrating in support of homosexuals in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The activities which the ministers refer to will likely include the recent protests organized by LGBT rights activists in Kenya regarding neighboring Uganda’s newly enacted anti-gay bill along with the celebration of Pride at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi back in June of 2012.

Kenya remains a dangerous place to be openly gay as the nation’s penal code, first enacted in 1930 and revised in 2006, still criminalizes homosexuality. As reported here, a man was stoned to death in 2012 after it was discovered he had sex with another man. 


Gay Rights Activists In Kenya Protest Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill: VIDEO

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TVC News recently reported from Nairobi, Kenya as gay rights activists gathered outside the Ugandan High Commission to protest that country's terrifying anti-homosexuality bill, recently blocked by President Museveni due to illegal passage through the legislative system. As Towleroad previously reported, the President is awaiting to evaluate 'scientific' evidence that homosexuals become gay, rather than being born that way, before signing off on the bill. The Kenyan protesters took serious issue with this stance.

Wearing rainbow masks, wigs, sunglasses, and the like, the group cited the removal by the World Health Organization of homosexuality from a list of diseases in 1992 as scientific reason enough not to persecute the gay community. There's a great deal at stake, too, as the anti-homosexuality bill proposes life imprisonment for perpetrators of "aggravated homosexuality."

Watch news coverage of the protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Rights Activists In Kenya Protest Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill: VIDEO" »


Amid Increasing Persecution of Gays in Africa, Author Binyavanga Wainaina Comes Out

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BY TRISTAN MCCONNELL / GlobalPost

NAIROBI — Binyavanga Wainaina has a hangover. Last night friends gathered for his birthday party, which turned into a coming out party, because Wainaina, one of Africa’s most powerful modern literary voices, had just published an article entitled, “I am a homosexual, Mum.”

On a continent where secrecy defines the gay experience and where a majority of countries outlaw homosexuality, coming out is a rare step for a public figure. Wainana’s piece, first published on Saturday, is being shared widely across social networks. “My dear @BinyavangaW writes a piece that springs open the prison doors of the heart,” tweeted Nigerian-born writer Teju Cole.

The timing of Wainaina’s coming out was a mixture of the personal and the political, and anything but accidental.

“Of course my friends knew, but I had been toying with how useful it would be to make a public statement for close to eight months,” Wainaina told GlobalPost on Monday, as his declaration of homosexuality picked up traffic on Africa Is A Country and Chimurenga Chronic, the two African websites where it was first published.

Last year Wainaina — perhaps best known abroad as the author of the satirical essay "How to Write About Africa" — returned home to live in Kenya after a prolonged period of international nomadism and began to feel “a certain falsity in the way I lived my life,” he said.

Wainaina struggled with the relative ease of being clandestinely gay while surrounded by his artist friends in cosmopolitan Nairobi, while elsewhere in Africa homosexuals faced increasing oppression.

Last month he went to a close gay friend’s memorial in the western town of Kisumu and learned that the friend's Christian family had been rejected by the church due to their son’s sexual orientation. Yet the young man’s parents had accepted their son’s homosexuality and even welcomed “half the queens in Kisumu” into their home to celebrate his life, Wainaina said.

Added to that were oppressive new anti-gay laws in Uganda and Nigeria. Ugandan parliamentarians passed a law in late December making “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life imprisonment. An early draft proposed the death sentence. (President Museveni rejected the bill this week). Nigeria’s president last week signed a law imposing 14-year jail terms for homosexual acts.

“There was the anti-gay bill in Uganda first, but the Nigeria one! Nigeria is a country I go to — I was there three times last year — it is a place I love, it’s like a second home to me,” said Wainaina.

“It’s hard to imagine any more repressive law of any kind anywhere in the world. It’s just the most terrible thing,” he said.

And yet Wainaina does not believe the war for gay rights is being lost in Africa, even if some battles are.

“It seems like doom and gloom but my feeling is that the law is a reaction to a thing that they know has traction,” he said. “And that’s a good thing. There’s no way to put that s--t back in the box.”

Wainaina has little time for the trite argument that homosexuality is “un-African.”

“The idea that there is no such thing as gay in African culture is a mixture of an inherited Victorian puritanism via the first churches, mixed with sloganeering and fear,” he said.

B_wainainaWainaina had been mulling his coming out for the better part of 2013. He said that on New Year’s Day this year he was “one tweet away from just saying it.” Instead, he chose to write his coming out in a short essay styled as a “lost chapter” from his 2011 memoir "One Day I Will Write About This Place," which won a coveted recommendation from Oprah Winfrey.

He wrote the essay during a couple of feverish late-night hours on the eve of his 43rd birthday,  Jan. 18. “I was very giddy the whole time writing it, very happy,” he said.

The result is heartfelt, raw and honest.

“Nobody, nobody, ever in my life has heard this,” Wainaina writes. “Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear. ‘I am a homosexual, mum.’”

Openly declaring his sexual orientation is both brave and potentially powerful, given Wainana’s reach. He has taught at Bard College in New York State, was awarded the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, and won acclaim for his brilliant "How To Write About Africa.” His smart brevity has earned Wainaina a growing Twitter following, and last year Foreign Policy included him in its annual Twitterati 100.

Wainana believes his honesty will be embraced in his home and in other African countries. “People who live in societies where you are being lied to a lot value truth,” he said.

Wainaina is set to become a still-louder voice for gay rights, a struggle that he sees as part of a wider defiance, an effort to break apart “the very, very hardwired restrictions that were imposed in 1885” by colonialists and which “are very alive in every facet of African life.”

“I want to be part of a generation of people in Kenya and Africa who change [Africa] to be accountable to itself,” he said.

(top image wikimedia commons nightstream - Writer Binyavanga Wainaina at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival.)


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