In 2010 Kenya adopted a new Constitution, with an expansive bill of rights. Yet consensual adult same-sex conduct remains criminalized under the Kenya Penal Code. The law is used to justify a myriad of human rights violations. Restrictions on freedom of expression target the LGBTI community and their civil society defenders, for instance, denying registration as NGOs to transgender and LGBTI organizations. In 2014 and 2015, two significant rulings of the High Court found this practice discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Kenya’s umbrella LGBTI organization, the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), has consistently worked towards upholding the human rights of LGBTI Kenyans by listening to, amplifying and communicating their voices to end all discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission’s 2011 report, "The Outlawed Amongst Us", details discrimination, such as violence, threats, extortion, arbitrary arrests, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and denial of access to services and quality citizenship participation. Envisioning’s research provides first-hand accounts, through interviews with LGBTI community members and leaders, that show how this discrimination is fostered by social and legal conditions.
Keywords: Jinsiangu; Gender Identity; Transgender; Trans; Intersex; LGBTI; Activism; Health and Mental Health; Discrimination; Stigma.
Guillit: “LGBTI was supposed to be, you know, a community. Now it has become ‘LG’, but the ‘T’s’ and ‘I’s’ have become - those are now just disappearing. They’re going to be what the anthropologists call, extinct. We are going to become extinct the way things are going; if we don’t, you know, speak our minds, voice our issues.”
Synopsis: Guillit Amakobe is the founder of Jinsiangu, a community based organization that provides a safe space for trans, intersex and gender nonconforming people in Kenya, especially those who identify as female to male. He speaks on the unique situation and particular challenges for trans and intersex people in Kenya, including in relation to inclusion and visibility within LGBTI organizations. Guillit discusses navigating trust, identity and self-esteem in the context of societal discrimination while also facing stigma from within Kenya’s LGBTI community.
Keywords: Tamba Pwani; Gay; Transgender; Trans; Sex Work; Activism; Health and Mental Health; Human Rights; HIV/AIDS; Family; Religion; Police; Sex Work; Discrimination; Violence.
Douglas Masinde: “I’m very much out, and even today, I am out. Till tomorrow I’m out. Till the day after tomorrow I’m out. Yes, I’m still out.”
Synopsis: Dr. Douglas Masinde is founder and Program Coordinator of Tamba Pwani, a community organization in Kilifi County, which seeks to empower gay, bisexual and trans men and male sex workers. Offering a personal account of his journey of being out as a gay man in Kenya, Douglas gives insight to the political, legal, health, societal, familial and religious dynamics related to his identity. Despite struggles, Douglas remains active in society, determined to promote inclusion, access and rights for all.
Akinyi Margareta Ocholla:
Keywords: Minority Women in Action; Lesbian; WSW; LB community; Social Movement Organizing; Activism; Health and Mental Health; Family; Stigma; Suicide; Police; Education.
Akinyi: “We have lost a couple of women; we are going to continue to lose a couple of women and girls because we can’t reach all parents. From what I understand, the suicides are, I think, a cry for help.”
Synopsis: Akinyi Margareta Ocholla is a founding member and former Executive Director of Minority Women in Action, and a board member of ILGA: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Ocholla is an advocate for the rights of lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex women in Kenya, including health and sexual reproductive rights. She speaks about the importance of family and how it plays a role in the mental state of women and girls of Kenya’s LB community, highlighting the lack of family support and the reality of suicide.
Jane Wothaya Thirikwa:
Keywords: Gay Kenya Trust; Lesbian; Gay; Bisexual; Activism; Health and Mental Health; Suicide; Discrimination; Police; Law; Same-Sex Marriage; Human Rights Defender; Social Movement Organizing
Jane: “The LGB issue has become - it has been put on the global platform, it’s become a global issue. It cannot be ignored anymore, like it has been in the past.”
Synopsis: Jane Wothaya Thirikwa was the Programs and Communications Coordinator at Gay Kenya Trust, a human rights and advocacy group whose aim is to eliminate the discrimination of LBG persons in Kenya, particularly on the grounds of sexual orientation. As a human rights defender, she emphasizes the importance of reporting and documenting human rights violations as well as the importance of the international community to LGB advocacy and promotion of rights. She speaks about the discrimination that LGBT activists such as herself face in Kenya, as well as her relationship with her partner and development of her identity.