Police in Mtwapa, just north of the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa, say they have arrested five men whom they accuse of being homosexuals.

District officer George Matandura said two of the men had been found with wedding rings, attempting to get married, in Kikambala beach resort.

The other three men were handed to the police by members of the public; two of them had reportedly been beaten.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya but arrests are extremely rare.

Crowds gathered outside the police station where the men were taken in protest at the presence of alleged homosexuals.

The wedding was reportedly due to take place at a private villa in the resort, but locals heard of the plans and alerted the police, who raided a house and arrested the men.

‘Repugnant’ behaviour

“We are grateful to the public for alerting the police. They should continue co-operating with the police to arrest more,” Mr Matundura said.

“It is an offence, an unnatural offence, and also their behaviour is repugnant to the morality of the people.”

“We shall use all means to curb this vice”  – Sheikh Ali Hussein, Council of Imams and Preachers

The district officer said the five, aged between 20 and 35, would “undergo a medical examination before we charge them with homosexuality,” the AFP news agency reported.

“We will move swiftly and close down bars which condone gays, lesbians, prostitution and drug abuse in their premises,” Mr Matundura added.

A member of a Kenyan gay rights organisation condemned the arrests and said it had appealed to the Human Rights Commission to step in.

But the marriage allegedly planned was condemned by Muslim and Christian clerics.

“We cannot allow these young boys to ruin their future through homosexuality,” Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya told AFP.

“We shall use all means to curb this vice.”

Bishop Lawrence Chai, of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, said: “This is immoral and we shall not allow it, especially here in Mtwapa.”

The five men are due to appear in court soon.

Media coverage

On Thursday, two other men abandoned their plans to get married at a seaside villa in the same area after local authorities complained.

The couple and their guests fled the coastal city when word spread that the police, government officers and members of the public were looking for them.

Apart from in South Africa, homosexual behaviour is illegal across Africa.

Four months ago a Kenyan gay couple married in London – an event which received wide media coverage inside Kenya.

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werd on (activism on) the ground!

WHEN:          THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH, 12:30 PM
WHERE:       UGANDA HOUSE  336, EAST 45TH STREET (BTN. 1ST @ 2ND AVES)

This demonstration is being organized in response to the global call for action from November 9th to December 10th, Human Rights Day, by SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda), a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s organizations based in Uganda.
 
Join with African Services Committee, IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission), Human Rights Watch, Health GAP and many other local HIV/AIDS and social justice organizations in the area on Thursday, November 19th at 12:30pm outside the Ugandan Consulate in New York to protest this assault on the basic human rights for the Ugandan LGBT community as proposed in Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
 
Similar actions are happening around the world including in Copenhagan, Ottowa, Pretoria and on the same day in Washington D.C.
 
For more information on the issue see IGLHRC’s action alert below.

The Issue:
The Ugandan Parliament is now considering a homophobic law that would reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality.” The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else who fails to report them to the authorities whether they are inside or outside of Uganda. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) are calling for the swift dismissal of the bill and human rights protections for all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Background:
Uganda’s Penal Code Article 145a already criminalizes “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” – a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment. The new bill would specifically penalize homosexuality, using life imprisonment to punish anything from sexual stimulation to simply “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” It also punishes “aggravated homosexuality” – including activity by “serial offenders” or those who are HIV positive – with the death penalty.

The bill criminalizes “promotion of homosexuality” in the form of funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality and punishes these acts with a steep fine, 5-7 years of imprisonment, or both. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends. More shocking, the bill claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country.

The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, which ensures independence for human rights non-governmental organizations, but contravenes the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda’s commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.

re/posted for a/nother critical study of  the voices that shape public discourse…if we were to apply a foucauldian analysis to the series being presented since October 14th, (en before)  it becomes clearer that the traiblazers are not Chege, Ngengi, Bahati or even  SMUG…even though they are all intricately connected in this ‘gay’ matrix.

the blazes are in every single arrest, and every one who is afraid to come  OUT, and talk back….

the trail blazers are the ones, who in Audre’s words, speak! even when they are afraid their words will not be heard nor welcomed.

the trails are  in the ones who speak, because they know when they remain silent they are still afraid….

they know it is better to speak.

and we’ve been speaking since way before chege & ngengi.

you wanna know who some of the real (purpose/full) trailblazers are?  they are people like fanny anny eddy & pouline kimani, victor mukasa & audrey mbugua, bombastic kasha & david kuria…..they are many more people than these folks. but i digress….

here’s yet a/nother article on Chege and Ngenge….

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Source: The Nation

After the Sunday Nation broke the story of the gay wedding of Kenyans Daniel Chege and Charles Ngengi in London, hardly any other subject could get attention on call-ins into FM stations, the Kenyan blogosphere, and in Nairobi pub conversations.

Chege and Ngegi are the first Kenyan gay couple known to have publicly wedded. Chege has been in a previous gay partnership that broke up.

Most of the comments were, predictably, critical—and some downright hostile. By almost a ration of 10 to 1, Kenyans thought what Chege and Ngegi had done was disgraceful, a shame upon the country, their families, an affront to God and good old African values.

But then something that no one seems to have paid attention to happened. In a follow-up, KTN TV station went to the village of Chege’s parents, and in one scene that has proved particularly controversial, stopped a very elderly relative of Chege along the village path, flashed the photo of the gay couple, and wanted to know her views.

SMS messages and Tweets started flying even as the programme aired. By a ratio of, again, 10 to 1 most Kenyans felt that KTN had crossed the line in the way it treated Chege’s and Ngegi’s rural relatives. One remarkable collection of this anger was on Stockskenya.com, whose users abandoned their usually staid conversation on finance and business issues, and plunged into the more dramatic world of privacy and sex.

This reaction was surprising, because what KTN did would have passed off as good, aggressive reporting if it had been any other story. As far as most people are concerned, Chege and Ngengi went too far to break a taboo. But the fact that so many people also seemed turned off by a follow-up of the story that went beyond the couple to their relatives, suggested that Chege and Ngengi have broken a psychological barrier.

Going forward, discussions of gay issues will probably be less difficult. And, I suspect, the next story of another Kenyan gay couple is unlikely to attract as much attention. The novelty, or shock factor, around gay relationships in Kenya – and indeed people in the know say Kenya has East Africa’s largest gay community – has cracked considerably.

Chege and Ngengi never intended it that way. After all, they refused to speak to the BBC about their wedding, and their only other comment has been a plea to the media and the public to leave their families alone.

However, if eventually Kenya comes to hold a more tolerant public attitude toward gay people, history will show that Chege and Ngengi were the ones who opened public minds. They could be the accidental trailblazers for gay rights in Kenya and, who knows, maybe East Africa

By MAKAU MUTUA

Posted Saturday, October 24 2009 at 14:15

In Summary

People have inherent right to choose how to perform their sexuality

A country’s soul is measured by how poorly – or well – it treats minorities. That’s why it is very alarming for a member of the Committee of Experts to opine that the draft constitution will not protect gay rights because a majority of Kenyans would reject it.

It’s not the job of the committee to add or remove a particular right because of its prejudgment or prediction of how Kenyans might vote. Nor should the committee cave in to hysteria created by any interest group, no matter how powerful.

But it is the work of the committee, which is composed of experts, to give Kenyans the most democratic and modern draft constitution that protects the rights of all Kenyans, especially the most vulnerable.

Constitutions are not meant to protect only the individuals that we like, and to leave unprotected those who are unpopular, or those the majority may find morally objectionable. Nor should a person’s identity be the reason to deny them protection.

Quite the contrary, a person’s identity – especially if it exposes them to ridicule, attack, or discrimination – must be the reason for constitutional protection. Constitutions protect individuals from the tyranny of the state and oppression from their fellow human beings.

These vertical and horizontal protections are the bulwarks against the unfair exploitation of the weak by the strong, and the domination of the minority by the majority.

Absent this architecture and logic, a constitution becomes the instrument of tyranny and the petri dish for dictatorship. This is the reason the modern democratic constitution must be unfailingly secular and not captive to benighted religious beliefs.

Religious faiths must not be allowed to use the constitution to establish archaic religious views, or vanquish the basic rights of those whom they see as sinners.

The Kenyan constitution cannot be grounded on a world view of sin or the moral predicates of religion. If it did, then Kenya would become a theocracy, not a modern secular democracy.

Nor is it the role of the constitution to choose one sexual orientation over another. The constitution must at least be agnostic on sexuality.

I want to appeal to the humanism intrinsic in religion for those who do not buy the argument of legal equality in secularism and liberalism. The Abrahamic faiths – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism – believe that all humans are God’s children, and that everyone deserves to be protected from discrimination.

That protection must be afforded irrespective of sexual orientation. Where better to entrench such protection than in the basic law of a country?

The “nature” versus “nurture” debate aside, most gay people do not choose to be so. They are gay and not heterosexual. Why should their state of “nature” deprive them of rights any more than it does heterosexuals?

But this is even conceding too much ground. Why should it matter whether one is gay by “nature” or “nurture”? It should not matter whether one is “born gay” or one is gay by choice.

Individuals have the inherent right – not given by a government – to choose how to perform their sexuality. That is why the constitution should protect those who are gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and asexual – including those who are heterosexual.

According to the UK Border and Immigration Agency, which is responsible for controlling migration in the United Kingdom, persons who are married to or are civil partners of a British citizen and wish to apply for naturalisation as British citizen must meet mandatory requirements which include three years’ residency in the UK and good character.

 “Hopefully, the Kenyan laws might change in the future and, one day, we might repeat our wedding in Kenya, ” said a defiant Mr Ngengi. A source close to Kenyan immigration said that because of the controversial gay wedding in London, it might not be in the ‘‘public interest’’ to allow Mr Gichia to enter Kenya.

 

angry black womanThe article below is re/posted as a response to the Kenyan gay wedding post & the “living the gay life” article in Pulse Magazine.

This is particularly for y’all who ain’t on the continent, to get a better idea of the interconnectedness of the backlash that we face. For example, after that badly written, homo/transphobic article was published….Living the Gay Life, by Shirley Genga and Matilda Nzioki, one of the people who was photographed has had to flee home. who knows the fate of the other folks photographed?

And, after the sensationalist and unethical manner that KTN followed up on the families of the men who got married in the UK,  a cousin of theirs has been beaten up, and the poor granma can’t move around……….we’re getting distracted and exploited in our negative focus on these issues. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it many times, we got much bigger issues to deal with corruption, poverty, the impunity of our leaders, bringing the perpertrators of post election violence to justice, the list, as any Kenyan will tell you, is long…….but here’s what Ruth has to say…..

 

Ruth lumembe, Thursday October 22, Daily Nation

I watched a news “scoop” on a TV channel the other night in utter dismay. Energetic reporters, professional colleagues of mine, literally waylaid an elderly woman on the road, having taken it upon themselves to break the no doubt devastating news that her son “was married by” another man.

Waving the newspaper picture in her face, they assaulted her with questions: “Do you know this man? Is this man your son? Can you positively identify him?” At first, the 70-plus-year-old couldn’t get what they were saying — she could barely even recognise her son, expressing surprise at how much he had aged (he must have left home a while ago because the papers reported that he is 39).

After a few minutes, a neighbour was called in to explain the situation to her. Still, the concept that her son had married another man refused to stick and the only thing she could say was that if she had the means, she would get on a plane and go and ensure the man who had done this to her son was “thrown in” (jail).

Picture a rural woman going about her daily chores, which include taking care of her 80-plus-year-old frail husband. She probably believes her son is very busy making a decent living in the UK, but will no doubt return one day to take over the running of the homestead. After all, parents don’t live forever. That is why she has been struggling to build a modest house for the next head of the home.

Suddenly, while minding her own business, she is accosted by strangers waving cameras and microphones and telling her something her mind cannot comprehend. How can a man marry another? That goes against everything she has ever believed, so it must be that her son is the victim here. It doesn’t matter that things look very consensual between the couple in the picture.

DISMISSING HER BEFUDDLEMENT, the reporters, hot on the trail of a big story, get her to lead them home, where they meet her husband. He too, is ambushed with the news. He doesn’t say much, and in the end hangs his head in silence. A relative comes out to see what all the fuss is about, and after a few minutes, chases away the reporters.

(I almost cheer.) Undeterred, the news team moves to a shopping centre and interviews the people about the “bride”, in effect breaking the news that one of their own is a self-confessed homosexual who has gone ahead to get married to his same-sex partner in public.

On looking at the picture, some confirm that yes, that is the man they remember from years gone by. Others are only too eager to say to the cameras that actually, come to think of it, the man did come across as being a little too girlish. All the while, I’m trying to imagine just how much the lives of the couple have been changed in a matter of an hour or so.

Suddenly, the old woman cannot go to the market as she normally would. Or to church, or to her monthly women’s chama, or even borrow salt from her neighbour of many years. Suddenly, she and her husband are the object of finger-pointing and whispering from people she once called friends.

Suddenly, her son’s situation is a public “shame” through no doing of her own. What is it that makes us cash in on another’s vulnerability? Is it the responsibility of a parent to decide what a 40-year-old does with his life? This is not just about my professional colleagues; as a nation, we have become insensitive and courtesy, respect for privacy and for elders no longer matter. We call our politicians insensitive. Are we any different?

Ms Lubembe is an editor with the Nation

eudy2a word from the blogger: I’m re/posting this because I think Patrick is talking about some important strategies…for the West. I’m not advocating for east afrikan queers & trannies to go out onto the streets and hold hands (jus yet) because I fear it’d be putting people in needless danger.

What I would strongly urge though is for queers & trannies in Canada, the U.K, the States….. to organise protests in solidarity with east afrikan communities. These past few weeks have been filled with backlash.

Uganda. Bill 18. Rwanda. Article 217. Kenya. 2 gay men were arrested in Mombasa & 2 lesbians were arrested in Kisumu… more on that in the following posts…

repost: Patrick Strudwick, The Guardian UK, Tuesday October 20th

I came out of the closet when I was 14, but rarely have I held another man’s hand in public. I’m a pragmatist. The feeling of cosy belonging might be delightful in theory, but as a gay person, it’s not that simple – it necessitates a constant risk assessment of one’s surroundings.

Which may explain why my hands are sweating. I’m standing outside The George and Dragon, a gay pub on east London‘s Hackney Road, waiting to meet a man who has agreed to walk hand in hand with me. You might think that these days people would barely notice. But things have changed. We’re in the midst of a new wave of anti-gay hate crimes: since April there has been a 14% rise nationwide in attacks on gay people. There were four homophobic murders in London last year; last week Ian Baynham died a fortnight after being attacked in Trafalgar Square. In summer mobs of youths besieged gay bars in east London. And, just a few metres from where I’m standing, a 21-year-old man was left paralysed last year after a gang stabbed him repeatedly. Gay people are getting scared. I’m scared.

The man I’m meeting is Dave Atkins, the mercifully tall and broad founder of A Day in Hand, an organisation dedicated to encouraging gay people to hold hands in public. “You have to go out and do it,” he booms. “It’s the only way things will change.”

He grabs my hand. We pass an elderly woman who stares straight ahead. Next come a couple in their 30s with two young children. They seem incomprehensibly absorbed in what their toddler is doing. A man saunters by. He clocks our clasped hands before looking away. Was that a hostile look?

“Let’s go up here,” I say, leading Dave into the Boundary estate where those mobs are rumoured to have come from. We pass a group of youths. They appear to find their iPhones more compelling than the sight of two interlocked homosexuals. At Whitechapel market a pair of bargain hunters glance first at us, down at our hands, and back to the two-for-ones.

Then something shocking happens. We turn into a quiet side street. Dave and I are engrossed in our conversation. Suddenly I jolt with the realisation that I have forgotten we are holding hands. “That’s the Holy Grail,” says Dave, “being so comfortable you don’t even think about it.”

We head into the West End and provoke nothing more than a cursory glance. Our final destination is Trafalgar Square. Last month, Ian Baynham, 62, was kicked to death here. There’s a din coming from somewhere – a man is on the first ridge of Nelson’s column preaching the message of the ‘Good Book’. “Let’s climb up next to him!” I cry. The sight of a preacher on Nelson’s column with two gay men holding hands next to him is starting to draw crowds. A lesbian couple spot us, scramble up and join our silent show of defiance. “The Lord will save you,” says the preacher. He didn’t save Ian Baynham, I think.

“I’m genuinely surprised,” I tell Dave afterwards as we say our goodbyes. “I was expecting at least some nasty comments.” “You see?” he replies, beaming.

But I know that today I was lucky; that at night things could have been different.

global human rights

By Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Senior Reporter)

RWANDA: As the Rwandan government sums up the process of reviewing that country’s draft penal code, the Civil Society Coalition on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people’s rights has expressed concerns about article 217 of the legislation which criminalises homosexual conduct.
 
This law which also seeks to bar any initiatives aiming to protect LGBTI rights has been strongly condemned by civil society groups in that country.

According to the Civil Society Coalition on LGBTI rights, a coalition formed to advocate for the removal of article 217 in the draft penal code, this section of the penal code is contradictory to the Rwandan Constitution and it is a violation of human rights.

The coalition also stated that article 217 is a “betrayal” of Rwanda’s recent history and the political drive of national unity, tolerance, inclusiveness and dialogue among the Rwandan citizens without discrimination.

Early this year, the parliament of Rwanda adopted Article 191 which states that any person who encourages or sensitises people of the same sex, to sexual relations or any sexual practices, shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a fine from 50 000 to 500 000 Francs.

Commenting about the Bill, Naome Ruzindana, Director of Horizon Community Association (HOCA) stated that LGBTI people are law abiding citizens who deserve peace and respect like any other Rwandan citizens.

“We feel very disappointed to be marginalized by our people, own country, state, society, community, civil society, stake holders, and our own families”, she said.

Meanwhile President Paul Kagame of Rwanda revealed plans to include a provision that would penalise homosexual conduct which appeared in Article 158 of the draft penal code of 2007 but was not passed into law.

Over the years Rwandan government has been mum about LGBTI issues, and the current bill comes as major blow for the LGBTI community in Rwanda.