Posted from African HRC, May 4, 2015
As homophobia continues to rise in many African countries, Kenya seems to be joining the crusade against its LGBTI citizens. Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, has told worshipers at a church service in Nairobi that homosexuality has no place in Kenya.
“We will not allow homosexuality in our society as it violates our religious and cultural beliefs,” Ruto was quoted as telling a cheering congregation at the Jesus Winner Ministry Church on the outskirts of the capital.” AFP reports from Nairobi.
“We will stand with religious leaders to defend our faith and our beliefs,” he said. “There’s no room for homosexuality in this country. That one I can assure you.”
This type of rhetoric is extremely harmful as it fuels and serves to justify attacks by local populace against LGBT people, while also emboldening authorities to enforce draconian penal codes not often invoked.
This timed outcry by Ruto may be seen as a reaction to the visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry who arrived in Kenya promising to push human rights, in tandem with discussions on security and terrorism.
AFP further notes that Ruto, who is on trial at the International Criminal in The Hague, accused of crimes against humanity, said his stance was about morality not politics.
“When we say this, we are not saying so as to get votes but to protect what we all believe is right,” he told The Star newspaper.
African HRC, Executive Director Melanie Nathan notes in response: “However one cannot ignore the persecution partnership between politicians and Evangelicals. Gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people form a minority group who are used by them for their respective agendas. Fear brings votes. Scapegoating encourages victimization.
In conservative Christian and Muslim countries in Africa, homophobia is a vote-winner. The spreading of misinformation about human sexuality, coupled with specific targeting by religious extremists, who rely on religious dogma, serve a politician well.”
Nathan urges caution, expressing concern about the remarks of the Deputy President:
“For the DP to use these words: “We will not allow homosexuality in our society” is surely, in effect, a call for genocide. He is asking for the eradication of homosexuals. How does one do that without expelling every homosexual from the country or worse?
Ruto’s words can easily push Kenya to join the ranks of Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, and The Gambia where LGBTI people are facing harsher criminalizing laws. These types of remarks underpin an increase in arrests and persecution by populace and authorities alike, placing all LGBTI people in much danger.”
At this time African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) is working with many LGBT people in safe shelter, some seeking exile and others already refugees and asylum seekers – all escaping specific acts of persecution by family, community, police, landlords, educational institutions, and employers.
Please support African Human Rights Coalition’s work in providing safe shelter and solutions for LGBTI individuals in kenya and other African countries at: http://www.africanhrc.org/#!donate/c1206
ORIGINAL POST AT AFRICAN HRC