LGBTI Kenyans motivating political and religious change for the whole of Africa

Yesterday evening I heard David Kuria deliver the Kaleidoscope lecture at the University of London about his campaign for election as a senator in next year’s Kenyan election. David is campaigning as an openly gay man, a first in Africa. He began by reflecting on the attitude of LGBTI Africans to their involvement in working politically for change, and on his experience running as an outsider. You get to see things other people miss, he said.  Change in Kenya is coming from below, from within the grass roots. David is standing as an independent against two other candidates from the major political parties.

I’m meeting David again this afternoon to continue the conversation we began in Kenya in March when he met retired Archbishop David Gitari with Revd Michael Kimindu and other Anglican pro-gay priests. David Kuria is a playful, modest, gentle man, and I wonder how he will endure the  pressures of a political campaign as a gay Christian Kenyan.

Another first in Africa is taking place on Saturday. Members of the Changing Attitude Kenya steering committee are travelling from Kisumu and Nairobi to Mombasa, joining LGBT Anglicans there for an all day meeting on Saturday with Bishop Julius Kalu, the Bishop of Mombasa I met in March. Bishop Joseph is becoming a confident advocate for LGBTI Anglicans in Kenya and has promised to engage his brother bishops in conversation.

For the first time in an African country (with the exception of South Africa) an Anglican bishop is meeting publicly with LGBTI Christians with a commitment to support them openly and to represent their experience honestly to the other bishops.

David Kuria’s election campaign is going to achieve a much higher profile. Yesterday morning he met John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and Chris Smith, one of the first MPs to come out in Parliament. David’s endorsement by pro-gay and gay western politicians strengthens his campaign in Kenya and reinforces his own confidence.  David has a campaign page on Facebook and donations to his campaign will make a huge difference, however small or large.

The Changing Attitude initiatives in Kenya may not be receiving similar attention as yet, but Kenya CA is developing relationships with bishops and the national church, which will ultimately lead to change not only for LGBTI Kenyans but also for Anglicans across Africa. These are very ordinary but remarkable people making a quite extraordinary breakthrough.

David Kuria, Bishop Joseph, Michael, Dan, Fred and others in CA-K, need to be enfolded with love and prayers as they risk the comfortable safety of the know to campaign for real change.

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