Attacks On LGBTI, Sex Workers Worrying

Published: June 26, 2013

NAIROBI, KENYA – ACTIVISTS have raised the alarm over the increasing cases of attacks targeting gay men, male sex workers and transgender women especially at the Coast.

This follows three attacks, all within the span of several weeks, with the victims identifying as gay, MSM, male sex workers or as transgender women.

It is unclear if these incidents were planned in advanced but activists now say they may be related to the several media reports that indicated Coast and Kisumu had the highest number of men who have sex with men in the country.

According to records, several media houses mid this month reported that the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) had released figures purporting that Nyanza county had the highest number of ‘homosexuals’ compared to other regions sparking off debate.

Another newspaper carried a report claiming that Coast was the region with the highest number of homosexuals.

Religious leaders were roped into the debate that ensued with Muslim clerics arguing that NACC was promoting gay rights. Despite this furor, NACC came out to strongly oppose the article on the ‘number of homosexuals’ in the country saying they never released those figures. (READ: Clerics Slam NACC Over Same-Sex Report)

They further denied they were promoting homosexuality and clarified that they were focusing on HIV and that meant dealing with populations most at risk of HIV, mostly men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and drug users.

However, the reactions spilled over with the first reported cases of gay men and male sex workers being assaulted coming from Kisumu County in Nyanza.

Polycarp Okeyo, a gay male sex worker in Kisumu, said there has been security concerns after the media highlighted the report and interviewed several residents of Kisumu.

‘I was personally threatened by people. Two of our members have been threatened and beaten. We do not operate freely.’

‘We have had several attacks by a group of very hostile men. They look like a vigilante and the police even fear them. No one dares question them for fear of reprisal,’ he added saying that they are worried that the vigilante group might be planning further possible attacks.

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