IDAHO 2011: Gay Kenya's Press Statement

Published: May 16, 2011

Promote a large and diverse agenda of human rights inclusive of anti-discrimination and equality

The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), held on May 17 every year, is a rallying event offering an opportunity for people to get together and reach out to one another. It aims to coordinate international events to call respect for lesbians and gays worldwide. Unlike the Pride Days , which are meant to emphasize pride in one’ sexuality and refusal to be ashamed of it, IDAHO is held to highlight that in reality it is homophobia that is shameful and must be deconstructed in its social logic and fought against openly. May 17 was chosen as the day of the event because homosexuality was removed from the International Classifications of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990.
Homophobia is described as ‘hatred of homosexuality” “hatred of homosexuals” “fear of gays and lesbians” “a desire or attempt to discriminate against homosexual’’ and is fuelled by a multiple of reasons including inability or unwillingness to change the hatred taught during childhood, fear of people who are different, promotion of homophobia by religious groups, a natural feeling of repulsion at the thought of same-sex activity. Realizing that homosexual behavior is unnatural for them, some people generalize this feeling into the belief that homosexuality is wrong for everyone; actual homosexual feelings that a person cannot acknowledge or handle, low self esteem leading to a need to hate other groups, are also cited as fueling factors of homophobia.
Usually, homophobia manifests itself in many forms: Violence, insults, physical assaults, evictions, denial of services or rights and privileges, stigma, distancing, and in extreme form, death. There are even reported cases of desecrations of bodies of suspected gays by exhumation and further humiliation.
As much as Kenya and Nairobi, its capital, is described as one of the more cosmopolitan cities in Africa where a lot of homosexuals find solace, homophobia is widespread. Homosexuality is illegally in Kenya, and is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.  The gay community is living in constant fear of discrimination, torture, maltreatment, persecution, stigmatization, disgracing of their families or being sent to jail. They keep their relationships in secret.
In April 2009, a woman accused of being lesbian was attacked by another lady in a night club. In February 2010 rumors of a gay wedding ceremony in Muslim-populated district of Mtwapa in the Kenya’s Coast city of Mombasa led to a gay hunt and many gays met the wrath of angry local Muslim and Christian communities In Kenya, 60 per cent of men having sex with men (MSM) are also having sex with women, and this appears to make them vulnerable to two sources of infection. Stigma and discrimination of homosexuals hinders them from getting medical treatment as many will not seek treatment for either STI’s or infections they acquire and many will not be open about their sexual histories for fear.

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