Gay men have been slashed with machetes and beaten with hammers in a series of hate attacks in Kenya which have already claimed at least one life.
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) has released a report detailing a growing number of violent acts against gays in recent weeks and is calling on government to help.
The report urges the repeal of laws criminalizing adult consensual same-sex conduct and the enforcement of laws protecting gays from discrimination, harassment and violence.
‘We view human rights as not being relative to geography, time and tradition,’ GALCK states. ‘Human rights are universal – as universal as the human being– each and every one of whom is born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
The group notes that ‘high religiosity’ and the conservative interpretation of religious doctrines have contributed greatly to the creation of a pretext that encourages the use of violence and discrimination against gays.
‘There continues to be gross violations of dignity, equality and basic human rights of individuals that are part of our families, communities and society,’ the group states.
They detail a series of recent hate attacks against gays.
They say the violence spiralled after a study – disowned by the National AIDS Control Council – alleged that Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi had the highest number of gay men in the country.
- On 21 June in Mombasa, a gay man was slashed around his neck and throat area with a machete, thrown out of a moving vehicle and left for the dead. He was rescued and taken to a hospital and is recovering.
- On 22 June in Nairobi, a man was sexually assaulted using a hammer and repeatedly hit on the head with it. He also suffered several knife cuts on the head and arms.
- On 24 June, again in Mombasa, a gay man was also suffered similar slash wounds to the neck and throat. He did not survive.
- On 23 and 24 June in Mombasa, a Radio Rahma call-in talk show hosted callers who openly said that they were on a mission to ‘clean up’ Mombasa of sex workers – especially male sex workers and the organizations that provide them with health services.
- From 21 to 27 June in Kisumu, there were reports of intimidation and beatings of persons perceived to be gay by vigilante groups. The incidents have not been reported to the police who, GALCK says, are intimidated by the vigilantes.
‘On a weekly basis, as informed by our internal incident logs, at least five people fall victim to blackmailing rackets that threaten to expose their orientation, others face eviction from their homes while others have their right to privacy is violated,’ GALCK states.
The group also reports cases where girls have been expelled from public schools for alleged lesbianism. In February 2012, eight girls were expelled from a high school in Kilifi and in June 2013 six girls expelled from a school in Muranga.
The report states anti-gay advocates are further inciting backlash by falsely claiming gays wants the right to marry as in the US and Europe.
‘This cannot be further from the truth,’ they state. ‘ The community is simply asking that beyond its HIV/AIDS response, government carries out its obligation to protect the rights and dignity of all Kenyan citizens.’
The report was signed by Artist for Recognition and Acceptance, Kenya (AFRA),Gay Kenya Trust (GKT), Health Options for Young Men on HIV/AIDS and STIs (HOYMAS), Ishtar MSM, Kenya Youth Education and Development Support Association (KYDESA), Les Bos, Minority Persons Empowerment Group (MPEG), Minority Women in Action (MWA), Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved in Kenya (PEMA Ke), Q-Initiative, Tamba Pwani, Upper Rift Minorities (URM), and Usawa Kwa Wote Initiative (UKWELI).