Kenya: Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya Condemns Closure of Centre in Malindi

THE GAY AND LESBIAN COALITION OF KENYA STRONGLY CONDEMNS THE CLOSURE ORDER OF ICRHK OFFICES

The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) STRONGLY CONDEMNS the order of closure of the offices of a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Malindi that was made on Friday, 27th June, 2008. It has been reported that On Friday, 27th June, 2008, a Chief Baraza meeting was called. Present were members of the Council of Imams, other Community leaders and members of the community. The meeting was called on the pretext of discussing general community-related issues. However, the leaders did not disclose beforehand that on the agenda was an inciting denunciation of the offices and services of the NGO based in Malindi. Employees of the targeted NGO were present at the meeting and had not been notified before the meeting that their offices would be discussed. The leaders claimed that the work of the NGO in Malindi was leading to an increase in homosexuality and Commercial sex work in the area. The leaders rallied the crowd to go to the offices, with the excuse of religion and morality, where the crowd turned hostile and threateningly called for the offices to be closed. The Chief of the area then ordered the closure of the Centre. The NGO is properly and legally registered and licensed and the lease of their offices is clearly and legally signed. The targeted NGOis an organization that deals with reproductive health issues, including prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, for all classes of people in Kenya, regardless of gender, sex, sexual orientation, age or other status . Studies done in Kenya by various HIV/AIDS researchers in Kenya have shown that Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) are at higher risk of contracting HIV. Furthermore, in its strategic plan that ends in 2010, the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) has indeed recognized MSM and CSW as vulnerable groups that require specific attention due to the high risk factor of them contracting HIV/AIDS and other STIs. Kenya has moreover received a lot of international praise for the work its doing towards the elimination of HIV/AIDS. The strategic plans of the Kenyan National AIDS Control Council are also viewed as one of the most progressive in Africa . Every human being has sexual rights including; the right to have control over one’s sexuality, as well as the right to sexual health. Whether or not individuals personally disagree with the sexual orientation and sexual practices of MSM, CSW and Women who have Sex with Women (WSW), the fact remains that these groups of people exist in Kenyan society, as they always have. The fight against HIV/AIDS is one on which every Kenyan leader has claimed to support. To stigmatize and deny preventive and treatment services to a section of the community that is at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS is irresponsible and will pull down the movement to eliminate HIV/AIDS. Every individual in Kenya is guaranteed their fundamental human rights by the Constitution of Kenya, and this includes freedom from discrimination. It is blatantly discriminative as well to deny a group of individuals access to health care on the basis of their personal or societal status, in particular, on the basis of their sexual orientation. What took place on Friday, 27th June, 2008 in Malindi is inexcusable. It is an affront to the gains that have been made so far in making health care available to ALL Kenyan citizens. The NGO is doing integral work in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. This work benefits and will continue to benefit society and MUST NOT be stopped simply because a category of people in our society refuse to view MSM, WSW and CSW as what they are; human beings. The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya therefore calls for the following actions to be taken:

  • For the Local authorities to order the reopening of the offices of the affected NGO in Malindi.
  • That the law enforcement authorities provide the required protection to employees, visitors and clients of the ICRHK offices in Malindi so that they can continue with the good work they are doing.
  • That the media in Kenya take social responsibility and publish this statement. The media is a crucial tool to truthfully and objectively educate Kenyan society on HIV/AIDS and human rights.
  • In addition, GALCK calls for other human rights, sexual and reproductive health rights organization and other civil society to issue statements condemning the closure of the offices which results in the multiple violation of the rights of vulnerable groups and individuals of Kenyan society.

Statement issued by: The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya Email: info_galck@yahoo.com


*The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya is a coalition of organizations in Kenya that advocate and lobby for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights. GALCK also works on creating awareness of the existence of LGBTI in Kenyan society as well as tolerance for sexual minorities.