An appeal to end attacks on LGBT people on Kenya’s coast

Click on the image to download the report on anti-LGBT violence in coastal Kenya.

Click on the image to download the report on anti-LGBT violence in coastal Kenya.

A key issue in Kenya, as elsewhere in Africa and in other homophobic countries, is violence and the lack of almost any legal remedy. Even when police bother to step in, it is often to perpetrate further violence and victimization in the follow on from it.

This contrasts starkly with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s insistence that gay rights are a non-issue in Kenya in his response to President Obama’s determined efforts not to ignore LGBT people, as demanded by Kenyan religious and other community leaders prior to his official visit to his father’s homeland in June of this year.

Last week, Human Rights Watch reported:

Mobs in Kenya’s coastal region have repeatedly attacked people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, PEMA Kenya and Human Rights Watch said in a video and report released in Nairobi … . In at least six incidents between 2008 and 2015, mobs in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, and Kilifi have attacked or threatened lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people or health workers serving the LGBT community, without sufficient response from authorities.

PEMA Kenya is a community organization in Mombasa that provides support to gender and sexual minorities on human rights, health, HIV/Aids, and economic well-being. The two groups’ report documented rights abuses  including mob violence, assault, rape, incitement to violence, and inadequate protection. The groups identified ways that Kenyan authorities could improve their response to these abuses.

Government should protect, not persecute, sexual minorities, HRW said.

Zaire’s Daily Maverick commented:

It’s a song that has been sung year after year: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are victimised in the majority of African countries, and human rights activists continue to fight an uphill battle. Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch released two disturbing reports from Kenya and Tunisia respectively, detailing more draconian prison sentences, public violence and even torture. There is no law protecting the rights of LGBTI persons and those who are brutalised or otherwise discriminated against have little recourse.