International, National

Charity raising funds to support ‘traumatised’ LGBTIQ refugees in Kenya

An Australian charity is raising funds to support LGBTIQ refugees in danger of violence in Kenya.

Humanity in Need – Rainbow Refugees will present a discussion of its crucial program at this weekend’s interfaith Parliament of World Religions virtual conference.

LGBTIQ people in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, many of whom have fled violence in their countries of origin, have been targeted by deadly transphobic and homophobic attacks.

Founded last year, Humanity in Need is providing safer housing within the camp, assisting with food and medical expenses, and offering psychological support for victims of trauma.

The group is also helping some LGBTIQ refugees with the expenses of living in nearby Nairobi when they are unable to stay in the camp.

Refugees are unable to work and ineligible for government support.

Spokesperson David Ayliffe said the situation in Kakuma has become worse due to reduced staff and resources because of the COVID-19 crisis.

He said that people of various religions risk being targeted if they become known as queer or trans.

kakuma parliament presentation
Volunteers building a toilet in the safe LGBTIQ compound within the camp.

 “The people in Africa are so traumatised because of this homophobia,” Ayliffe said.

“People will be beaten mercilessly.

“[The community] will pray for exorcism over you to cast the demons out, and there are many cases where fathers have killed their sons and daughters for their sexuality.

“It’s terrible – how does someone live with love turned to hate?”

He said that people have been abused and attacked while queueing for food and water in the camp.

“The trans folk have the worst stories because – unless they’re going to be completely ‘undercover’ and then tormented by the fact that they’re just not who they are – they’re much more visible to oppressors,” said Ayliffe.

Among its other work, the organisation has built a secure compound within Kakuma Refugee Camp to more safely house LGBTIQ people.

The conference presentation will discuss the LGBTIQ refugee crisis and Humanity in Need’s ongoing work.

“We want to see it given greater prominence so that we can advocate for change in Africa – change through shame,” said Ayliffe. 

“The people of faith who talk of a merciful God, whatever religion they pursue, should be shamed for the treatment that is given to LGBTIQ refugees.

“And the fact that they have to become refugees – they can’t stay in their families, they can’t stay in their homes.” 

Humanity in Need is seeking donations and volunteers and hopes to expand its work to help refugees in other locations.

Registration is open now for the Parliament of World Religions.

The conference presentation will be shared on the Humanity in Need – Rainbow Refugees Facebook page.

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