As Kenya prepares to elect a new president, the LGBTIQA+ community wants candidates to state their stance on the issue of legalising homosexuality once elected to office.
Community activists say that they will mobilise their members to boycott the August polls if presidential hopefuls do not guarantee their protection and recognition.
Nicole Tena, an activist based in the capital of Nairobi, said that LGBTIQA+ people will not participate in a process whose result will bring them misery.
“Why should we wake up and vote for people who have refused to recognise us and respect our rights?’’ Tena asked.
“The [LGBTIQA+] community will only vote for someone who will come out boldly and promise to legalise homosexuality once elected.”
Community member Andrew Jibe said that he wondered why the political class could not be bold enough to lead the crusade against homophobia in Kenya, based on the power they wield.
“Politicians are powerful people in this country, and their word is taken as gospel truth,” said Jibe.
“They must come out, especially during this electioneering period, and tell the masses that we, the [LGBTIQA+] community, are human beings like them.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya and punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment, under laws that the country’s parliament was crucial in formulating and passing.
Among the leading presidential contenders, none have come out with a clear policy to protect the LBGTIQA+ community from discrimination and attacks.
Fridah Nyabori, a leading lesbian activist in Nairobi, said that whoever is elected in August must assure the LGBTIQA+ community that they will end discrimination directed towards them by public health facilities and offices.
“We want a president who will guarantee us our health, social, political, and any other right under our constitution,” said Nyabori.
“We want someone who will be our friend and not our enemy.”
Activists also want the next president to also formulate a clear policy on fighting the spread of HIV among the gay community.
“The HIV infection rate among gays is alarming, and the government is not doing anything about it,” said Arthur Gero, an LGBTIQA+ health rights activist.
“We want the next president to take this issue seriously and help fix the situation.”
The community is also in the process of mobilising its members to seek elective political positions in the regional and national assemblies in the coming elections.
“We want to have our own in parliament because that will help push our agenda and safeguard our rights as a community,” said Gero.