A STATEMENT BY THE KENYAN LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND INTERSEX COMMUNITY ON HEALTH, SAME-SEX SEXUALITY AND MEDIA.

 GALCK

A few years ago, when the Members of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya  – GALCK, held their first meeting, we decided to use the term “we the indigenous Kenyans,” to emphasize that we, the Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people are truly Kenyan, and not foreigners or even influenced by any western ideology in accepting our inherent sexuality: same sex relationships and other sexual orientations than heterosexual.

We now again jointly release this statement in which we underline the  following concerns:

While we celebrate the publicity that the media has given to a largely ignored and silenced community in Kenya, we also note with concern that this publicity has also been sensationalized and with the intention of creating an impression that the LGBTI community in Kenya has certain unstated subterranean agenda which goes against our cultural traditions and value systems. We the members of GALCK love and hold in high esteem the African values of love, charity, family and (….) complete sentence We have read with great concern the widely publicized media reports that we are interested in gay marriages. We wish to categorically state that we are NOT. This seems to be the agenda of the media and not of LGBTI Kenyans. We have too many pressing issues like our fellow Kenyans at the present time.

From lack of jobs, ever increasing food prices, ethnic hatred to be concerned about same sex marriages. we would further like to note that just because we are not inclined to pursue the marriage agenda at this time in our struggle,does not mean that we condone the unfair and intrusive reporting on such marriages as we believe every one of us holds the freedom of choice in their private affairs. In addition to these shared concerns of all Kenyans we additionally are asking for freedom from discrimination, in

provision of services, freedom from police brutality, freedom from prolonged and impolite gazes, and generally any form of unfair treatment simply for who we are. All we are asking for is polite and humane treatment – the same kind of treatment that any Kenyan would want to receive from another human person.

Thirdly, we are most appalled by the treatment given to our family members. It was extremely shameful and intrusive of the media to ambush old and ailing parents of a gay person with inhumane questions about their child, one whom they had not seen in such a long time. It is as if, by embracing our sexuality, our families ipso facto loose any right they have to privacy, dignity and fair and humane treatment from the media. Please leave our families out of it, they do not choose our sexual orientation for us, and for many within the family our sexual choices are a struggle for them to accept. Exposing them to public humiliation serves no purpose at all.

Most Kenyans are appalled by the conduct of the media, in this regard and we know there are some in the media fraternity with a sense of decorum and propriety, we hope they will prevail on this uncouth behavior of their colleagues.

We are very much concerned about public and personal health of our society. In an era of HIV/AIDS, one group that has recently been identified by various government studies to be heavily impacted by HIV is men who have sex with men. Because of our society’s attitude towards them many are also married and have children and represent all cadres of our society. When there is sidelining and discrimination on any segment of our society, as is being done here on LGBTI Kenyans, then there can never be success in fighting HIV and AIDS. These communities will go underground making it very  difficult to provide prevention, treatment and care for all our citizens ensuring the continued spread of HIV. It is important to realize there is no society in the world that has ever eradicated homosexuality through  compulsory heterosexuality – enforced heterosexuality only leads to more HIV infections, inability to reach the Most at Risk Populations with properly targeted protection messages and widespread vulnerability.

It is in recognizing the deeply entrenched African value of life that we are urging all LGBTI Kenyans to embrace their sexuality and practice it safely and to protect all that they partner with.

Lastly the LGBTI Kenyans do not stop anyone from living their lives as they see fit. Indeed we do not even stop preachers and saints from preaching and living their saintly lives. While we believe that sexual orientation is innate and cannot be changed (even though one can live a semblance of heterosexuality) we do not in anyway impede on those who want to pray same-sex sexuality away from doing so, nor do we stop the preachers from helping them to pray it away. All we are asking is for a legal and constitutional order that respects our freedom of conscience and right to exist. Kenya belongs to both the religious believers and non-believers and our laws should not be dictated by the teachings of any religious persuasions. Indeed religious freedom also means freedom not to believe. If  LGBTI people have no place in the church, they are still Kenyans and should also be protected by the law.these sentence feels like a direct attack on religion without context-can we rephrase to mean everyone else and the media?

 Therefore we call for equal treatment before the law. Such is in the interest of the health of the entire society in the era of HIV/AIDS, and in the interest of the observance of everyone’s basic human rights. I understand the need of using HIV as our entry point or right/how does this reflect on the homophobic views the media is already giving?I think we should add that what we expect is responsible reporting maybe even offer first hand interviews in response to matters of public interest(chege+charls) this will ensure they have more info???

 written and signed by

Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya

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