By Lilian Onyango
A human rights report has accused the police of sexually assaulting homosexuals while in their custody.
The report has also pointed the finger at religious leaders and politicians for instigating violence against them by fuelling homophobia.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission launched the report dubbed “The Outlawed amongst Us — a study of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Community in Kenya”.
Mr Tom Kagwe, the commission’s senior programme officer said most state officials, especially the police, harass gay persons in remand by keeping them beyond the constitutional time limits.
The report indicated that the police, especially in Coast Province, “plant offences” such as being drunk and disorderly or prostitution on the group.
“Some police officers even demand sexual favours in exchange for release from custody,” Mr Kagwe said.However, deputy police spokesman Charles Owino has challenged those whose rights were violated by the police to come forward so that culprits in the force are brought to book.
Mr Owino dismissed allegations that suspects are held for longer than 24 hours “without a good cause”.
“We have been known to take suspects to court and would like a particular case to come forward. We do not deal with rumours,” he said.More than 400 respondents from all provinces were interviewed for the study, which ran from May to October last year and found that six out of 10 cases of sexual violence on gays were perpetrated by police in Nairobi and Coast provinces.
The report has excerpts from respondents who claimed attempts to report harassment by police were in vain “due to the reluctance of the police to investigate and prosecute their own”.
More than 300 respondents said they felt “unwanted and threatened” by religious groups. The report calls for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
The document was launched to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, marked every May 17.
The Outlawed Amongst Us