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Friday, 9 October 2009

Kenya attack on Gays


Source: Gay Activists Alliance intl:-GAAI Team Africa

By Ken Were-Project Manager, Team Africa, and Dennis Hambridge Global coordinator

Kenyan police are investigating an assault incident where a gay activist was allegedly attacked by a mob of his neighbours in Nairobe,because he publicly expressed his opinion to support gay rights. He was attacked from his house in the early hours on the night Saturday 4th October.

A police source told Gay Activists Alliance –Team Africa on the phone that “Yes, we have received information that Peter Wanyama was assaulted. We are doing our job now. This is a serious offence to harm someone’s health” he said.

Efforts to reach the Nairobi provincial police boss were fruitless as he was constantly reported out of office on official assignment.

Currently, Wanyama and his partner are housed at the Gay Activist Alliance –GAA-Team Africa premise in Nairobi, under the care of Marsha Makatini, a Transgender rights activist with the other activists of the organisation.

Marsha is calling on well wishers to support Wanyama so as to get a new safe home with his partner.

The Organisation’s global coordinator, Dennis Hambridge, who inccidently was in Nairobi, Kenya, when the incident happened roundly condemned the incident and called on the Kenyan police to conduct a credible investigation into the attack.

“ No one should be attacked because he is a heterosexual or homosexual. Sexual orientations is a matter of human rights We want LGBTI organisations to step up their campaigns on advocacy and awareness to the society on the LGBTI rights ,” Hambridge advised.

Peter Wanyama, a human rights activist working with, The Other Sheep – Kenya, an LGBTI Christian human rights advocacy organisation, recorded a statement with police in Nairobi, after a section of his neighbours allegedly reined on him with blows and kicks accusing him of being gay.

He frantically pleaded with the charged mob of neighbours, mostly men to spare him but none would hear. He called out their names but they continued beating him senselessly until they bundled him back to his house, apparently leaving him for dead. His partner was not at home during the incident.

He sustained head, eye injuries and suffered facial bruises during the night attack at his residential estate home, some five kilometres from the main city centre of Nairobi .

Three female neighbours came to the rescue .They called one of Wanyama’s friends to come and take him to the the hospital after locking him in a room, to bar the way of wild male neighbours who were baying for his blood and from further pouncing on him.

Rev. Micheal Kimindu, head of Metropolitan Community Church , a Christian LGBTI organisation in East Africa , took the victim to a local hospital, where he was treated and discharged . Rev Kimundu condemned the incident saying police must take stern action against those who caused grievous harm to Wanyama , only for disclosing to them his sexual orientation.

“We must follow this case to the later. This is grave abuse of fundamental human rights and the LGBTI community must confront this with all their solidarity,”Rev. Kimindu lamented.

While the leader of The Other Sheep – Kenya, Rev. John Makokha called for a thorough investing into the matter saying those who attacked activist Wanyama must be arrested and face the law. Rev. Makokha said they have already engaged a lawyer to peruse the case.

Wanyama told the Mask, that troubles started at around 11.20pm ,Kenyan time on Saturday 4th October 09, when a male neighbour, aged 26- years -old walked into his house and engaged him into a discussion on human rights in light to LGBTI community.

“When I told this young man about the rights for the LGBTI to live freely, he stood up and started shouting at the top of his voice calling his brothers and other relatives of his at the estate to come and beat me up because of my stand on homosexuals and their rights . They rushed to my room pushed and shoved me before throwing me out of the door to the veranda, I went unconscious, he narrated the ordeal on bed with a swollen eye."

"In pain from the mob attack", he continued, "I thank some of my female neighbours for their candid dare to who tried to wrestle five men who were had stepped on my head .They told me that I should be killed because of my opinion."

His assailants also smashed the glass of the door when they tried to forced entry into Wanyamas’s rented home to further attack him, but they were restrained by the estate caretaker.

The victim said they have been staying together with neighbours peacefully and wondered why one day some of them turned against him to terminate his life .

He says its “very hard to belief what happened to him. We have been chatting happily with my neighbours, sometimes eating together,” He added as tears drenched his cheeks .
.
Rev.Makokha has called for help to the activist and his partner. “I talked to Wanyama he is traumatised and he need care and support. I have guided and counseled him and the partner ,but they need at least to move out of Nairobi to go and relax in a quiet environment as they recollect for life again, “Rev. Makokha noted.

Ken Were said:

"The GAAI supports a safe house in Kenya, several GAAI-team Africa activists live in and takes care of the home, due to homophobia and transphobia, abuse and attack it is extremely unlikely to get employment in Kenya if you are known LGBTI, poverty is rife regardless, and HIV/AIDS accounts for an estimated 3 million people, health officials report that 87% of the population are unaware of their HIV/AIDs status

Four days on after the attack, Wanyama is still in the care of the GAAI-Team Africa, shocked, battered and bruised, but coming to terms with the attack, he and his partner are unlikely to be able to return to their home, and will stay with the GAAI-Team Africa until he is able to find a safe home to go to.

In Kenyan law, Being Gay is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, however not recently exercised. Sodomy is punishable by up to 18 years imprisonment

~~~~~

Ware adds:

Gays outed in Kenya: The Standard Newspaper and Pulse Magazine have outed gays yet again by capturing photos of drags in the recent party where I happened to be a judge!!!


Nairobi, Kenya - 2008Image by Andrew Turner via Flickr
Living the gay life

Source: The Standard (Kenya)

By Shirley Genga and Matilda Nzioki

Websites, underground parties and the organisation GALK (Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya) are proof that the gay lifestyle is here to stay.

Celebrities, politicians, socialites and indeed an entire new college-and-post college generation have embraced a lifestyle that, a mere ten years ago, was something of a novelty. And ten years before that, seen as abomination in Africa.

It seems the number of gay FM radio presenters, as well as outrageous celebrities, have added to the gay buzz in Kenyan towns.

The World Social Forum held recently at Kasarani, is a case in point. Gay and lesbian groups sent representatives to the event. However, a mob of gay-haters thought it was kisirani and assaulted one of the gay rights advocates after she’d spoken candidly of her ‘candy choices’ at a premier TV station in the CBD, last year.

Through the internet and social organisations, gay Kenyans from all walks of life find advice and solace in each other. In the late, MJ’s words, they are not alone.

Mike,* a 25 year old writer describes how he was recently invited to a party hosted by a friend of a friend. At the beginning of the bash, he did not notice anything strange, but as the night wore on, men begun to pair up with other men and women with other women.

"It was very traumatising, my friends and I got up and dashed out without a backward glance," says Mike.

Another writer, 33-year-old Fred* remembers how a notorious lesbian artist said she was interested in getting him to see some ‘gal-on-gal’ action in his flat.

Turns out she turned up with five other female twenty-somethings, they drunk his alcohol and then went at it, hardly bothering to include him in the ‘grand coalition. The lesbo-artiste had simply used him to get a classy venue for her pals, and he was more a voyeur to perversion, than the parvenu of the action.

While some argue that a person cannot be born a homosexual, others believe that homosexuality is inborn and that no matter what a person does, if they are born a homosexual, then they will always be gay.

Twenty-one-year-old Smith*, whom we met at a gay party held last week at a city nightclub discovered he was gay in his teens. He says he had been molested sexually by his uncle from the tender age of six. During his teens, he found himself attracted to other boys.

"Children at the age of six years are usually concentrating on how to add one plus one, but I was being exposed to sex and nudity by my uncle, after my mother who was raising me as a single parent died. Even though I had been brought up in a strong Christian family I found I liked boys," he recollects, adding that no child should ever go through that.

However, after this discovery in high school, he hated himself to the point of thinking about suicide at the age of 17. "I eventually realised that the only way to be happy is to accept myself for who I was; a man who loves other men and wants to be with them," he said. Whenever someone walks up to him and asks him if he is gay today, he tells them upfront because he came out of the ‘closet’ two years ago.

Smith says it is very wrong for our society to decide that being homosexual is a choice. "Homosexuality has been shunned and frowned upon in African society to the point that most gay people are physically attacked. I do not understand how someone would willingly make a choice to be part of a group that would endanger their own life," he argues.

Ann* a Kenyan college student, agrees. She says it’s not her fault that she just doesn’t find satisfaction in a man, but in women, and does not understand why someone would victimise her for it.

Their sexual lifestyles not only affect their social interactions, but also their family relations. "My relatives know about it, but they are very discriminative. Many of my gay friends also face the same opposition," states Smith*. He just wishes they would look at him as a person, and not judge his sex life. Ann* says: "My parents do not know, but my siblings do." She however is not sure if she will tell her parents, but she prays that if she ever does, they take it positively.

in denial

Having discovered her sexual preference during her primary school years, Ann says that one can only confide in their closest friends, and even so, few will stay around. She was in denial the first time, and even insisted on dating men, but she was not happy deep down.

Sharon* a friend to a lesbian, notes that although she accepts her long-time friend as she is, she still finds it hard to understand. "At first, I thought there was a possibility of her hitting on me, and then now, there is the issue of what other people think of me when they see us together," Sharon says. According to her, it is condemned in the Bible, and all she does is to make sure that whatever choice her friend makes, it does not affect her.

Both Ann and Smith note that there is no difference between gay and straight relationships. You get cheating partners; there are break ups, and all the things that go on in a heterosexual relationship. "I have been in three serious relationships with females, and same things happen," adds Ann. Smith as the ‘chick’ in the relationship says that his relationships never last. "Good men are hard to come by and besides, I am afraid of heart break." He also says the fact that he has a job and is stable scares men away. He says that he has been with women before, but he would still want to be gay in his next life because he finds it more fun and thatgay partners are like-minded and understand each other better. He only attracts and hits on gay men. They can pick each other up from a crowd, unlike the transgender or the drag queens (they dress like women and live everyday like women, feeling that they were born in the wrong gender) who are also attracted to straight men.

While others claim to be gay for life, others experiment with it while on campus or while still young just to find out how it feels. Others choose to walk in both worlds and to be bisexual (gay and straight) depending on the season they are going through.

Olivia, a lovely 30-year-old who got married three years ago, discovered her bi-sexual nature in college ten years ago "during that mad October of ’99," and although she now has a two-year-old daughter with her hubby, she still has the occasional quick fling with some ‘pretty young thing’. "I don’t think I’ll ever out-grow my ‘gay’ side, like most of my bi-curious friends have done."

love is love

Lucy a University student says she does not discriminate on either gender, that love is love.

"I have a boyfriend but sometimes I like to experiment with my best friend, depending on my mood. Sometimes people look at me like I’m weird when I tell them that I’m a bisexual. But I don’t care. I hope that just like in the Western countries, those like me are treated with respect, that one day, Kenya will treat everyone with respect and dignity," says Lucy

According to Smith, the gay community in Kenya is larger and more vibrant than many people think. Although there are more lesbians than gay men in Kenya, gays cut across all spectrums of society. "I have been hit on by doctors, lawyers, teachers and even priests, who are Kenyans, well in their fifties," says Smith. There is an umbrella body — Gay and Lesbians Coalition of Kenya, with many mini organisations with offices under it. They in the issue of what other people think of me when they see us together," Sharon says. According to her, it is condemned in the Bible, and all she does is to make sure that whatever choice her friend makes, it does not affect her.

Both Ann and Smith note that there is no difference between gay and straight relationships. You get cheating partners; there are break ups, and all the things that go on in a heterosexual relationship. "I have been in three serious relationships with females, and same things happen," adds Ann. Smith as the ‘chick’ in the relationship says that his relationships never last. "Good men are hard to come by and besides, I am afraid of heart break." He also says the fact that he has a job and is stable scares men away. He says that he has been with women before, but he would still want to be gay in his next life because he finds it more fun and thatgay partners are like-minded and understand each other better. He only attracts and hits on gay men. They can pick each other up from a crowd, unlike the transgender or the drag queens (they dress like women and live everyday like women, feeling that they were born in the wrong gender) who are also attracted to straight men.

While others claim to be gay for life, others experiment with it while on campus or while still young just to find out how it feels. Others choose to walk in both worlds and to be bisexual (gay and straight) depending on the season they are going through.

They both wish they could have a voice to fight for their rights without being victimised. "In many developed countries, extensive research has been done on homosexuality and that is why they have legalised Gay marriages," says Smith. He adds that in a country like Kenya, the community is misunderstood and all they get is bad publicity, like being in it for money, while someone like him is hard working and has a job. He adds that the law also has loopholes, for instance, finding a man in bed with another man is charged as sodomy, but if the two happen to be women it will just be called ‘indecent exposure’.

Whether Smith and his friends will make it to see a shift in our law, the way South Africa has gone, only time will tell. Ann says she likes to think she will get married, but the general public is her worry. As for Smith, all he wants is to find a good man with whom he will fall in love, and then head to a country where it is legal and settle happily ever after, like several Kenyans have done.

One fellow who worked with Ford Models has taken it a step further. Acknowledging he is gay, and ‘trapped in the wrong body,’ he recently got a sex change – and is taking hormone supplements to look more like a woman.

psychologist’s view

Jane Orlago, a counselling psychologist at Nairobi Women’s Hospital says that cases of homosexuality are becoming more common, especially among youth and whether the society likes it or not, it cannot be swept under the carpet.

"I do not believe that homosexuality is innate, I believe it is environmental. Unfortunately today’s youth believe that television is the gospel truth, and easily pick up behaviours they watch on television.The fact that they like to experiment with anything new does not help matters," says Jane.

Jane further believes that when dealing with a child who believes that they are gay, a parent should tread softly and be understanding, if they approach the child harshly they will not help matters. Parents should try and understand where the child is coming from. This is the only way they will be able to help them.

"Taking your child for counselling in search of a solution may help. I have counselled a few gay people. Our society is conservative and I do not know if it will ever accept homosexuality as normal," says Jane.

*names have been changed.
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1 comment:

  1. ofcourse jane, i just watched a show which showed two men kissing, and i was like "i wanna try that!" and you call urself a shrink!

    ReplyDelete

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