In at least six incidents between 2008 and 2015, groups of Gender and Sexual Minority persons in the coastal counties of Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa have been threatened or attacked in incidents of mob violence. Rhetoric vilifying Gender and Sexual Minority people, much of it by religious leaders, is particularly pronounced on the coast, and shapes public perceptions. Police play an ambiguous role.
In some cases, they have protected Gender and Sexual Minority people from mob violence — a role that is recognized and appreciated by LGBTIQ activists on the coast — but they have not brought the perpetrators of violence to book. In other cases, they have outright failed in their responsibility to protect; refusing assistance to victims because of their presumed gender identity or sexual orientation, conducting arbitrary arrests, or even perpetrating violence themselves. The criminalization of same-sex conduct renders these minority community vulnerable to violence at the hands of ordinary citizens as well as law enforcers. Those who engage in sex work are even more vulnerable; they suffer rape and other abuses at the hands of clients, police, and county government law enforcement officials.
Many LGBT victims of violence believe they have no recourse, and that the police are just as likely to persecute them as to protect them. Criminalization, discrimination, and violence also inhibit access to HIV prevention and treatment. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are many times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population in Kenya and have been identified by health agencies as a key population in addressing the HIV epidemic. Mombasa, the largest city on the coast, also has higher HIV rates than the overall Kenyan rate. Success in addressing HIV in Mombasa, with its large and mobile population, is important in addressing HIV nationally.
In light of the above-mentioned scenario, it is of importance to train Gender and Sexual Minority community members on human rights because knowing your fundamental rights as a human being prevents perpetrations.
This training will equip our members with information and that will reduce the number of violence, discrimination, abuse and human rights violations cases against GSM community members. Moreover, our members will be empowered leading to a better understanding of the law and how it preserves or denies them from enjoying basic human rights.
For more discussions on this please contact:
Michael Muraguri, Program Officer – Health