Kenyan gays in Mombasa vow to fight laws criminalizing them

Members of the gay and lesbian community said on IDAHO day that they will lobby for the abolition of laws which criminalise their sexual orientation. Speaking at a dinner to mark the international day against homophobia and the minority groups, they said they will seek to have sections 162 to 165 of the Penal Code repealed. It was hosted by the Coast regional office of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals,Transgender and Intersexuals.

The dinner coincided with the release of a Kenya Human Rights Commission report which accused the police of sexually molesting homosexuals in custody.

The report titled ‘Outlawed Amongst Us’ also blamed religious leaders and politicians for fuelling hatred against the gay community. The homosexuals said most of their members did not chose to be ‘different’ and they should not be discriminated against when seeking health services, education and employment opportunities.

Officials of the lobby group said there is need to have the public educated on gay rights and make them understand that homosexuals are productive members of the society.

Over the past few years, gays especially in Mombasa have been discriminated against and even beaten. Several gays and lesbians confessed they cannot go public about their status due to fear of victimisation. One of the men at the even said he has to keep shifting from one house to another when neighbours start questioning his lifestyle.

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