Kenya’s ‘top homos’ are fearing for their lives after a newspaper published their names and pictures on its front page today (11 May).
Citizen Weekly has exposed 12 LGBTI activists and leaders. Several were previously in the closet.
While some are known internationally as proud spokespeople for the community, others include a senator and a gospel singer.
Few Kenyans are openly LGBTI as it is illegal to be gay. Activists fear the newspaper will incite mob violence, similar to when Ugandan activist David Kato was killed after being ‘named and shamed’ on the front page of a tabloid in 2010.
While the frontpage headline reads: ‘TOP GAYS, LESBIANS LIST IN KENYA OUT’, the actual article as seen by GSN does not call for violence or murder like other past tabloid lists of this nature.
It references how Kenya’s high court has ordered the government to allow a gay rights group to register after they initially refused it on the basis of moral and religious grounds.
The three judge panel made clear the country’s constitution is supreme and the government had no case to discriminate against LGBTI people in this instance.
This article, an activist fears, could be part of the campaign to further turn the public against the LGBTI community.
‘If homophobes were looking to target people, if the police were looking to arrest people, if anti-gay youths were looking to attack some teen they assume is gay, they now have a face and a name,’ Denis Nzioka, one of the names mentioned, told Gay Star News.
‘We are now walking targets. While some of the people on the list are open about being gay, some are not. It is putting every person’s career, life and family at risk.’
Working together with fellow Kenyan LGBTI activist Eric Gitari, Nzioka is reaching out to every person mentioned in order to ensure they are out of danger.
They are currently considering a class action lawsuit against the newspaper for endangering the lives of the people listed in the article.
‘I would not be surprised if we see other names exposed,’ Nzioka added. ‘Right now, everyone in the community is a target. With the media ready to incite violence like this, we can’t think about the laws right now, we just have to ensure everyone stays safe.’