Gay and Lesbian Commemorate World Aids Day in Nairobi, Kenya: Text and Photos by Felix Masi
The Gay and Lesbian coalition of Kenya stand at the Kenyatta International Conference center, Nairobi city's capital and Kenya’s landmark, was the showstopper during the annual commemoration to mark World Aids Day.
About 200 members of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender community who braved the stigma and public name calling and segregation, marched fourth in procession behind the Kenya Prison Waders band branding and in full Gay rainbow colors, as they marched from Uhuru-Park (Freedom Park) to the event’s venue.
This comes at a time when Kenya among African countries has rejected marriage between same sex partners and warned such persons to seek countries that allow such marriages. Kenya’s proposed draft constitution has also rejected a proposal by The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, a move that put persons leading Gay, Lesbian and Transgender at risk of humiliation by families, at work place, apartments, universities and right to medical health and cover.
The recent marriage between two Kenyan of same sex in the UK, being the first among Kenyan Gay partners also elicited sharp responses from religious organizations, who described the union between Mr. Chege Ngengi, 40 and his bride, Daniel Chege Gichia, 39, as “unacceptable and unnatural.
The two became civil partners under the controversial Civil Partnership Act, which came into effect in the UK in 2005 allowing couples of the same sex to have legal recognition of their relationship.
As the world marked World marked World Aids day, a five homosexual group under the banner of Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) led by David Kuria, attracted hundreds at the Kenyatta International conference center venue, with majority wanting to see these persons, some wanted to know more about homosexuality, some were curious and homophobic.
Peter Njane, the director of Men having sex with men (MSM) outfit, was moved by the numbers and termed the event as timely and strategic, he said even though their request was rejected, the community still feels need and urgency to push for recognition and human rights said Mr. Peter, Mr. Peter also said they have 400 already registered members in Nairobi alone, 150 members at the Coast and 75 in Kisumu, these are members who have come out openly despite the challenges the community is facing, said Mr. Peter.
Although homosexuality has existed throughout the African society, identifying with Gay coalition like this one has not been accepted, organized religions including Anglican and Muslim community, have termed homosexuality ungodly and unnatural, a Taboo or curse in African traditions and culture.
The biggest challenges and fear is the rate of infection in Nairobi as well as other big cities, infection among married men is high and stigma and discrimination on Gay and Lesbian persons put the progress in fighting HIV/Aids into a reverse gear, Mr. Peter, the manager of Men having Sex with Men (MSM) hit at health institutions for discrimination on same sex couples who face discrimination in accessing ARV’s. The Gay community movement also attacked the local media for lack of ethics while reporting on Gay issues. “U n i v e r s a l A c c e s s a n d H u m a n R i g h t sˇ i s t h e t h e m e f o r W o r l d A I D S D a y 2 0 0 9
Take action! This post was submitted in response to World Aids Day 2009: Universal Access and Human Rights.