for the 5 th installment of this series for 16 days of activism…..
we’re using werd on the ground to re-examine the necessity of safe spaces,
and the particular responsibility that allies bear in creating and maintaining positive space….
like the kptj listserv for example, one of those where I maintain a dubious silence.
I’ve only ever posted one piece on that listserv, and the backlash I got was silent and pervasive,
but at least there were a few that voiced their support for the issues we were advocating for….then,
still many more remained silent, and, reiterated their solidarity in our ‘private’ conversations,
it is always ‘u people’ or them that’s the problem……
that was then…
now, with recent events, more are voicing the shift in the boundaries to be drawn,
it’s the ripple effect in the story of that butterfly that flapped it’s wings, and like a bill that was drawn by bahati,
it seems the winds are changing,
even though this statement is from one of our strongest allies in Kenya, and thankfully, to be expected, it’s posting needs to be examined in the context within which our rights are being re-shaped….there has been much more public debate on sexuality,and unfortunately, on the ground, it’s still being led by homophobes & well-meaning ignorant folk…..so everytime our rights are re-asserted in a simple & direct way, it’s something to acknolwedge and respect.
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Position on Rights related to Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
The KHRC is concerned by ongoing expressions of prejudice about and stereotyping of Kenyans due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. Prejudice and stereotyping, when not consciously addressed, feed the discrimination, harassment and violence experienced by Kenyans because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Some sections of Kenyan media, particularly uninformed radio presenters, have led this frenzy of disinformation and hate speech. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex is not ‘un-African’—Africa’s history is replete with examples of how those of different gender identities and sexual orientations were named and addressed by various communities. Even if it were not, the fact that some Kenyans now identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex openly makes being so African.
Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is simply the sexual orientation of some Kenyans—nothing more than where some Kenyans happen to be on the continuum of human sexuality. Being transsexual or intersex is simply the gender orientation of some Kenyans—nothing more than the fact that some Kenyans find themselves at odds with the biological binary of being ‘male’ or ‘female’. Kenyans who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex continue to be, as all Kenyans are, subjects of legal protections provided by our Constitution and African and international human rights standards we are signatory too.
All Kenyans are entitled to equality under the law—and to be free from discrimination in education, in employment, in health care provision, in housing and so on. All Kenyans are entitled to security of the person—and to be free from violence. All Kenyans are entitled to privacy—and to be free from arbitrary and illegal intrusions on this privacy. Regardless of what prejudices and stereotypes persist about Kenyans who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex, these entitlements stand.
Yet some sections of the media—supported by some conservative religious organisations—continue to bombard the Kenyan public with messages implying that those entitlements exist only for some Kenyans. In declaring themselves defenders of “authentic” (though often invented) African cultural traditions, they pit “culture/African family values/morality” against human rights and attempt to subject sexuality to restrictive state control.
The KHRC strongly opposes efforts to reduce this debate to one of “culture, family values or morality.” It is a debate about human rights—freedom of expression, equality, security of the person and privacy in particular. The KHRC strongly opposes discrimination against, harassment of, violence against or prosecution and punishment of all Kenyans, including on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Kenya is at a critical moment in our construction of a democracy inclusive of diversity and based on respect for human rights. We urge all involved in drafting the new Constitution to take all the necessary measures to ensure all Kenyans full citizenship and protection from non-discrimination—by including gender identity and sexual orientation as protected grounds in the equality rights section. We urge all public service providers, the police and the judiciary to act with respect for the Constitution to protect gender and sexual minorities from discrimination, harassment and violence.
The KHRC firmly believes that dialogue is key to understanding gender identity and sexual orientation. We urge the Kenyan media to enable such dialogue while desisting from prejudicial and stereotypical hate speech. The dialogue is not about creating new human rights, but about acknowledging that all Kenyans have the same human rights, regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Board of Directors
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
The KHRC works towards the observance, protection and support of all human rights for all people irrespective of sexual orientation, ethnicity, social origin, economic status, gender, political belief or because of their religious or other conscientiously held beliefs.
and while we’re on the tip of acknowledging, how’s this for direct response from allies?
this piece is also taken from the kptj listserv
The issue is not whether we agree or not. The list has always been open to the expression of diverse opinions.
But expressing diverse opinions is one thing. The expression of abuse, violent language, and other forms of attacks on people of other persuasions is not acceptable on this list. The right of Omtatah and others to express their views has to be assessed in relation to their call for the repression of those of different sexual preferences to organise and live without fear of aggression or calls for the suppression of their views.
I have no hesitation therefore in banning such antisocial behaviour from this list.