Gays flee to Kenya, fearing for their lives

According to CapitalFM news, gays in Uganda are fleeing to Kenya to escape the wave of homophobic assaults and attacks, which spurred from a recently introduced anti-gay bill.

LGBT individuals have been beaten, killed, jailed or simply have disappeared in countries like Uganda. To escape these fates, LGBT individuals have fled Uganda to Kenya.

But Uganda is not the only country in Africa where this is a fate for LGBT individuals.

According to the article, “some have fled a strict application of Islamic law in Somalia, others are running from general sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and yet others have fled a climate of growing hostility elsewhere in east Africa.”

However, these refugees are in a difficult position: they cannot return home because of the danger to their lives, and they cannot stay in Kenya, since refugees cannot work and since being gay is illegal.

There only option: go to another country. However, where? Most countries in Africa still have a law making being gay illegal.

Africa has become progressive in some regards; however, in the way of human rights for LGBT individuals, it seems to only be regressing.

This can be seen in two aspects:

First, last month UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told African leaders at the AU summit that they must respect gay rights, since being gay is still illegal in most countries in Africa.

Secondly, the CapitalFM article, while I commend Kenya for hosting these refugees for the time and drawing attention to these hateful acts, still refers to those who are gay as “homosexuals.” Homosexual is a medical term coined by doctors to describe the mental problems people who were gay faced.  It was a derogatory term that often meant the doctors must “fix” how they feel, who they were.  Homosexual is not a friendly term for the LGBT community since it was coined during a time where being gay was considered a mental illness, not a part of “normal” life. So one should stay away from using this term.

Africa has come a long way in the last decade or so; however it still has a long way to go, especially with respect to human rights. Citizens need to be able to live without fear of being killed for who they are. This (in my opinion) is the gravest UDHR violation, and it must be eradicated.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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2 Responses to Gays flee to Kenya, fearing for their lives

  1. Pingback: Uganda reintroduces Anti-Gay Bill | haleybehre

  2. Pingback: Two charged in Kenya over homosexuality « sebaspace

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