Showing posts with label Kenya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kenya. Show all posts

May 4, 2016

Kenyan Court Will Hear Case to Stop Useless, Demeaning Anal Examination

                                                                          Coast Provincial General Hospital (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Coast Provincial General Hospital (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

A Kenyan court will hear a constitutional petition challenging the use of forced anal examinations of men accused of homosexuality on May 4, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. Under international law, forced anal examinations are a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that may amount to torture. 

In the case before the Mombasa high court, the two petitioners, both male adults identified in the petition only as C.O.I. and G.M.N., state that doctors at Mombasa’s Coast General Provincial Hospital (also known as Madaraka Hospital), in collaboration with law enforcement officials, violated their rights by subjecting them to forced anal examinations, HIV tests, and other blood tests in February 2015, while they were in police custody on charges related to alleged homosexual conduct. Anal examinations are a discredited, 19th century method used by law enforcement officials to attempt to “prove” homosexuality in several countries around the world, Human Rights Watch said.

“Anal examinations prove nothing, and they accomplish nothing, other than humiliating and demeaning people who are considered moral ‘outcasts,’” said Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights at Human Rights Watch. “It’s frankly shocking to see such archaic methods used in Kenya in the 21st century.”

Human Rights Watch has documented the use of forced anal examinations in eight countries since 2010: Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Zambia. These examinations usually involve doctors or other medical personnel inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into the anus of the accused. In other cases, men are ordered to strip naked and bend over or lie down with their feet in stirrups while doctors “visually” examine their anal regions. Law enforcement officials and some medical personnel claim that by forcibly penetrating or otherwise examining the anuses of men accused of homosexuality, they can determine the tone of the anal sphincter or the shape of the anus and draw conclusions as to whether these men have engaged in homosexual conduct.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment stated in a January report: “In States where homosexuality is criminalized, men suspected of same-sex conduct are subject to non-consensual anal examinations intended to obtain physical evidence of homosexuality, a practice that is medically worthless and amounts to torture or ill-treatment.”

Forced anal exams violate the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights – all treaties that Kenya has ratified, Human Rights Watch said. Under international law and Kenya’s Sexual Offenses Act, if the exams involve any form of unwanted penetration, they constitute sexual assault and possibly rape.

Human Rights Watch has interviewed forensic medicine specialists around the world who have confirmed that anal examinations are medically worthless. According to one doctor in Uganda who has conducted dozens of anal examinations: “If it is a case involving consenting adults, you can’t tell much from examining them. … The police bring them for exams because the neighbors are complaining that someone is homosexual, and the police become suspicious. They ask me to fill in the form, but it doesn’t serve much purpose. 

The Independent Forensic Experts Group (IFEG) condemned anal examinations in a recent statement. “Anal examinations to ‘detect homosexuality have no scientific value, are unethical, and constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, medical director at Physicians for Human Rights and member of IFEG. “Sexual identity and orientation is not a disease or a crime and health professionals have no business diagnosing it or aiding State officials in policing and punishing people on the basis of their sexuality.”

In Lebanon, the Lebanese Order of Physicians issued a circular in 2012 prohibiting medical personnel from conducting anal examinations, which they described as a clear violation of medical ethics. The justice minister followed suit, calling on prosecutors to stop ordering anal exams on men accused of homosexuality. Although Human Rights Watch research has found that forced anal exams do occasionally still occur in Lebanon, the ban appears to have significantly diminished their frequency.

“Governments in Kenya and around the world should take immediate steps to ban forced anal exams,” Ghoshal said. “The men in the Mombasa case, and dozens of others around the world, should never have had to undergo such a humiliating and demeaning procedure, and governments should prevent this from happening to others in the future.”

Human Rights Watch 

October 27, 2015

Kenyan President Seems to be Coming Forward on Equality for the LGBT Community

It has been a while since we posted anything positive on gay rights coming out of Kenya. It took the Supreme Court of the United States to declare gays as equals and the president Obama to be reeducating the Kenyan president on the merits of not persecuting people the US consider equals. (t is real nice to see change coming. Long ways to come but when the change begins on the top, it tends to make the water run faster down the hill.
The ‘Outed' list was put out to intimate the gay community

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta made his strongest statement to date in support of basic rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, in an October 18 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. For the first time, he publicly condemned violence and “witch hunts” against LGBT people. But his pick-and-choose approach to rights shows there’s still a way to go in the struggle for LGBT equality in Kenya.

Kenyatta told Zakaria, in response to a question on “gay rights,” that he would “not allow people to persecute any individuals… [or] to beat them [or] torture them.” This commitment is laudable, as was his statement that constitutional rights extend to all Kenyans. “Every individual has a right to be protected by the law, and that’s stated in our constitution,” he said.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch and PEMA Kenya documented abuses against LGBT people in coastal Kenya, including mob attacks, physical and sexual assaults, and arbitrary arrests. We argued in our report that the primary issue affecting LGBT Kenyans is violence, and we are pleased that President Kenyatta concurs. His comments echo the African Commission’s Resolution 275, condemning violence against LGBT people.

But the “witch hunts” Kenyatta has condemned are an unfortunate reality – most recently seen in Kwale County in February, when a public anti-gay uproar compelled dozens of LGBT people to flee their homes.

Two Kwale men have been charged with alleged “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and face trial. Police plucked them from a bar on the basis of rumors that they were gay, and subjected them to forced anal exams – a form of torture – to “prove” their sexual orientation.

And this is where Kenyatta doesn’t go far enough. Isn’t the police treatment of these two men a violation of the very constitutional rights that Kenyatta says are inalienable?

Kenyatta said that although gay people should not be “persecuted,” Kenya isn’t ready to “legalize” same-sex conduct, arguing that for most Kenyans, “this is not an issue that they are going to put at the center. They have more pressing issues.” Indeed, Kenyans have said in opinion polls that they are far more concerned about day-to-day survival – including access to health care, education, and basic security – than about the legal status of LGBT Kenyans.

But this is precisely a reason to stop prosecuting consensual same-sex conduct, not to criminalize it. In a state plagued by security issues ranging from carjackings to cattle rustling to terrorism, don’t the police have more pressing priorities than peeping through Kenyans’ bedroom windows?

May 29, 2015

Kenyan Court Approves Creation of Gay Rights Group-Catholic Church Opposes


A decision by a Kenyan court to order the government to register a gay rights organization is facing stiff opposition from the Church and some members of parliament.
A three-judge bench last month ordered the Kenyan government to allow the registration of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), a human rights group that represents the rights of the gay community. 
Kenya’s Attorney General has appealed against the court’s decision, with churches denouncing the court’s order as un-African and anti-family.
The NGO Co-ordination Board (the government body which monitors non-governmental organizations in Kenya) had refused to register the rights group on ‘religious and moral’ grounds. Along with the Attorney General and various religious groups, the NGO Board had opposed the registration of the NGLHRC, but the judges said that the Kenyan Constitution did not allow a limitation of rights on moral or religious grounds.
A group of members of parliament have also opposed the move, urging the Attorney General and the NGO Board to appeal against the decision. 
One of them, Irungu Kang’ata, was quoted as saying that the judges’ argument was ‘shallow and misguided’. He added that Kenya’s Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality.
The High Court had ruled that the Constitution allows recognition and protection of the rights of ‘every person’, including minority groups such as gays and lesbians, but the churches have associated the court’s decision with US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Kenya this July.
Deputy President William Ruto is the latest to wade into the controversial debate. A week after the ruling, he said on national television that the government would not allow the registration of an organization for gays. ‘The Republic of Kenya is a republic that worships God. We have no room for gays and those others,’ Ruto told a Nairobi church congregation.
Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya has a strongly religious and socially conservative society. Anti-gay remarks by African leaders like Kenya’s deputy president often resonate with the majority of the public. Last week, the Kenyan weekly newspaper Citizen Weekly printed the names and faces of 12 gay leaders on its front page. This may endanger their lives in a country that does not readily embrace gay rights.
Denis Nzioka, one of the gay activists named in the newspaper, says he now fears for his life, and accuses the newspaper for its unethical practice of using their names and pictures without their consent.
‘By publishing our faces, people have now put a face [to a name]. We are walking targets. At the moment, we want to ensure those mentioned are safe. We hope that this debate is not fuelled by hate or ignorance, but acceptance, dialogue and equality.’ 
Activists like Denis are afraid that this incident might trigger violence similar to that seen in Uganda in 2010, when a ‘name and shame’ campaign led to gay activist David Kato being beaten to death.

October 4, 2014

Kenyan Gay Life in a violent Homophobic Country

'Stories Of Our Lives' is a film depicting the lives of LGBTI Kenyans
Stories Of Our Lives was originally made anonymously to protect the cast and crew.Photograph: The Nest Collective
When most directors await the release of their film, the worst they can expect is a negative review. For Jim Chuchu, the fallout could have been far worse.
That’s because the Kenyan artist and filmmaker had chosen to tackle a subject often shrouded in secrecy in his home country: the experience of LGBTI individuals. The resulting film, Stories Of Our Lives, presents viewers with five fictionalised vignettes, but the stories it tells reflect a wider reality. 
In Kenya homosexual sex acts are punishable by up to 14 years in prison, though convictions are rare. Nonetheless, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission reported in 2011 that “LGBTI persons are routinely harassed by the police, held in remand houses beyond the constitutional period without charges being pressed against them, and presented in court on trumped-up charges”.
Chuchu, together with fellow members of Nairobi-based artists’ collective The Nest, travelled around Kenya to collect hundreds of accounts of what life is like for gay and transgender citizens. He says their film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September, is a composite of these stories. It feature lesbian schoolgirls, a closeted gay man in love with his straight best friend, and – inevitably – homophobic attacks.
In some cases, the dialogue was taken straight from the audio interviews conducted by Chuchu and his collaborators. But the idea of making the film as a documentary was rejected by the collective.
“We felt that the documentary format wouldn’t give us the breadth and nuance of narrative storytelling,” Chuchu says. “We wanted to find the universal stories within the multiple individual tales.”
Chuchu said in one interview that he would never have been able to create his film in neighbouring Uganda, where an anti-gay bill was passed last December decreeing that “repeat homosexuals” should be jailed for life. The bill has since been declared invalid by the constitutional court, but a climate of homophobia and anti-gay violence prevails. 
In Kenya, the film-makers are awaiting a decision by the local film classification Board, which will determine whether the film can be screened locally. A ruling is expected next week.
Chuchu and his co-producers initially decided to release the film anonymously, to protect the cast and crew from possible backlash. But ahead of its premiere in Toronto they changed their minds, and put their names to it - explaining their decision in a statement
“We made this film because we believe strongly that the fight for the right to define one’s self, the right to be complex and different and unique, should be fought for proudly and openly,” they said. 
The film, shot using only one camera on a budget of $15,000, has received enthusiastic reviews abroad. But for Chuchu, the most gratifying responses have been closer to home.
“We have received a lot of goodwill and positive curiosity from many Kenyans who feel that they want to see the film and engage with the conversation around LGBTI identities,” Chuchu says.

August 26, 2014

Young Missionary sex Abuser of Kenyan’s kids says, demons made him do it

Matthew Lane Durham 

Mathew Lane Durham, the 19-year-old Oklahoma missionary who allegedly admitted to raping several children at a Kenyan orphanage, also allegedly told a friend that he was possessed by a demon named Luke who made him commit the atrocious acts, the Daily Mail reports.
According to the report, federal prosecutors submitted the text messages Durham sent to a friend about “Luke” and the control the “demon” had over him. “How can I not hate this thing inside of me? It takes me at night and I am powerless over what Luke wants. Yes I named him, I know how crazy that is. He whispers in my ear all day and he’s so hard to resist,” one message allegedly read.
Durham’s friend advises him to pray and laugh in the face of the supposed demon, but Durham continues: “Literally he takes me at night and there is nothing I can do to stop him. I’m asleep, what can I do? ... I’ve prayed so much but every night luke gets get luke wants.”
Durham, who was doing missionary work in Kenya with a group called Upendo earlier this year, faces life in prison for the charges, which include engaging in illegal sexual conduct in foreign places and aggravated sexual abuse with children.
The teen allegedly confessed to raping and molesting as many as 10 underprivileged Kenyan girls and boys, ages 4 to 10, while doing his missionary work. One of the children is HIV-positive.
According to the Daily Mail, prosecutors have been hoping to have Durham remain in jail, arguing that he is a danger to the community and a flight risk.
However, according to the Associated Press, on Monday a federal judge in Oklahoma City, Magistrate Judge Shon Erwin, granted him bond, under the condition that he remain inside his family home and not come in contact with children.
“You’re going to be on 24-hour lockdown,” Erwin told the suspect, setting bail at $10,000 and giving custody to the young man’s father, Oklahoma City Fire Department Maj. Kyle Durham. The younger Durham also had to give up his passport.
Prosecutors are planning to appeal the decision.
Throughout the horrifying accusations, Durham’s parents have stood by him, testifying that they did not believe the allegations, according to AP.

July 25, 2014

Kenya told to Legalize gay sex


Kenya is among countries told to legalize gay sex, etc.,or lose donor funding at the ongoing international Aids conference in Melbourne, Australia. In a keynote speech witnessed by UNAids Executive Director Michael Sidibe, retired Australian high court judge Michael Kirby angrily told such countries, most of them in Africa, to make the activities legal or keep their begging bowls.

Kirby was reported verbatim saying patience was wearing thin among Western countries which donated roughly half of the $19 billion in funds to fight Aids in developing economies last year. "They cannot expect taxpayers in other countries to shell out, indefinitely, huge funds for anti-retroviral drugs if they simply refuse to reform their own laws and policies to help their own citizens," reported Rappler, a social news network. Nobel laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, who co-discoverered HIV, also directed more fire to these countries, accusing them of creating conditions that let HIV spread like poison.

 "We need to shout out loud that we will not stand idly by when governments, in violation of all human rights principles, are enforcing monstrous laws that only marginalise populations that are already the most vulnerable in society," he said. See also: Methanol imports to be monitored The 12,000 delegates attending the 20th International Aids Conference, with several from Kenya, are also signing the "Melbourne Declaration". The declaration, which may in future be used to determine who gets funding, insists all gay, lesbian and transgender people be entitled to equal rights and access to HIV care.

US pulls Peace Corps out of Kenya:         

The Peace Corps is suspending its programs in Kenya because of security concerns and is pulling more than 50 volunteers out of the country until threat levels decrease, the Peace Corps and State Department said Thursday.
A statement to The Associated Press from the State Department said that the Peace Corps "has been closely monitoring the security environment in Kenya ... and has decided to officially suspend the program in Kenya." The Peace Corps will monitor the security situation and determine when volunteers can return, it said.
The decision comes amid a tightening of security by the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, which has seen dozens of grenade and gunfire attacks the last two years. Earlier this year the U.S. increased the number of security personnel at the embassy and put armed Marines behind sandbag bunkers on the embassy roof. The State Department also reduced the number of U.S. personnel here by moving a regional USAID office out of the country.
The decision to suspend the Peace Corps program has been in the works for a while but was not announced publicly. U.S. warnings about the high risk of terror attacks in Kenya always ruffle the feathers of Kenyan leaders, and the State Department and Peace Corps statements underscored the long U.S.-Kenya relationship and the hundreds of millions of dollars the U.S. pours into Kenya every year.
But it was clear that given the grenade and gunfire assaults, as well as the massive attack on Westgate Mall last year that killed at least 67 people, the government felt that its Peace Corps volunteers — who live in far-flung villages with little security protection — were vulnerable.
Underscoring the danger of random violence, a police officer in the coastal town of Mombasa confirmed that a foreign woman had been shot and killed Thursday while walking the city streets, the second foreigner killed this month in the area.
Recent Peace Corps volunteers in Kenya said they felt the U.S. government program did a good job of keeping them updated about security, including the sending of security text messages, but they acknowledged that security was deteriorating.
"Some volunteers weren't very pleased with the level of security they provided, but I'm not sure what they were expecting. We don't have security guards to protect us, and it's Kenya, so sometimes bad things happen regardless of any preventative measures," said Nik Schuetz, a 28-year-old volunteer in Kenya from 2009-11 now studying at the University of Kansas.
The Peace Corps, which was founded in 1961 after the suggestion of then-Sen. John Kennedy, has some 7,000 volunteers in 65 countries working on education, health and environmental issues. Nearly 50 percent of the program's volunteers are in Africa. The program has had to pull volunteers out of dangerous situations before, including in Nepal in 2004 and in Kenya after the 2007-08 election violence. The Peace Corps also suspended its program in Ukraine in April.
Schuetz was initially placed in western Kenya with a public health program but his house was broken into and his belongings stolen, so the program moved him to another province, where he stayed for two years.
"They taught us to be smart about our surroundings and to trust the hairs on the back of our necks to sense whether it was a safe situation or not. And some things like bombings or grenade attacks, you just can't prepare for other than leaving the country," he said.
Anna Martin a Peace Corps volunteer in Busia, Kenya from 2010-12 who still lives in the country, said she always felt safe as a Peace Corps volunteer because the U.S. mission was "always making the best decisions regarding our safety and well-being."
"My opinion ... is that things just weren't getting better," said Martin. "Peace Corps had already taken measures to protect volunteers but had to ultimately make a bigger decision. And it a wise one."
At full strength the Peace Corps has had more than 125 volunteers in Kenya in recent years, and the pull-outs will hurt communities receiving American assistance. Shira Kramer, the spokeswoman for the Peace Corps, said the program hopes the volunteers can return "to support the country in meeting its development goals."
A third recent Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, Travis Axe, said there was no doubt that aid groups, schools and pharmacies would be negatively affected by the pull-out.
"Kenya is spearheading the growth and trends of so many sectors in East Africa; it is a shame to see such a wonderful program be cut from a country that has so much potential," he said.

January 23, 2014

Gay Author Lashes at Homophobia in Kenya

Binyavanga Wainaina

African literary light Binyavanga Wainaina says he's known he was gay since he was 5 though he did not have a homosexual encounter until he was 39.
To celebrate his 43rd birthday, the prize-winning Kenyan has published an online essay telling the world that he is gay. His story contributes to an increasingly fierce debate about gays in Africa and is a protest against laws that seek to further criminalize homosexuality.
It is illegal to have gay sex in most African countries. Gays in many parts of the continent face severe harassment, physical threats and judicial punishment. Kenya has a law banning sodomy. Uganda, a neighbor to the west, recently passed legislation that calls for life in prison for some gay acts.
Wainaina's essay, painful to read, this week announced what he wishes he had told his mother before she died 14 years ago: "I am a homosexual, mum."
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, he said he came out to help preserve his dignity.
"All people have dignity. There's nobody who was born without a soul and a spirit," he said. " There is nobody who is a beast or an animal, right?
"Every one, we, we homosexuals, are people and we need our oxygen to breathe."
Wainaina, whose hair is dyed in rainbow colors, lashed out at recently passed laws against homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda. He also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces criticism over Russia's law banning "gay propaganda" aimed at youth.
"I can't sleep at night because there are people who I may know or who I don't even know ... who may be dying or being beaten or being tortured right now in a Nigerian cell or three weeks ago in a Ugandan one," he said.
Dennis Nzioka, a gay right activist in Kenya, welcomed Wainaina's public announcement and said his prominence may influence other gay people in Africa and Kenya to come out publicly — particularly the older professionals who have been living a double life.
Nzioka said Wainaina's announcement was both inspirational and courageous.
"Courageous, because to do this in the Kenyan society knowing very well what he can face; ostracization and rejection," Nzioka said.
He said the reaction of most people was negative and is symptomatic to the homophobia that exists in Kenya.
In Nigeria on Wednesday, thousands of protesters demanded the executions of 11 men arrested for belonging to gay organizations.
Demonstrators threw stones into the Shariah court in the north Nigerian city of Bauchi until security officials fired into the air. The judge closed the court abruptly so the accused men could be safely returned to prison.
They were detained in a frenzy of arrests of alleged gays apparently precipitated by this month's passage of a new bill that further criminalizes homosexuality. The Same Sex Prohibition Act makes it illegal to even hold a gay meeting — a law that human rights activists say will endanger efforts to fight AIDS.
In Kenya, homosexuality is not a crime, but the law forbids sodomy, and partners of the same sex are likely to receive extra attention from police. Wainaina said he is not afraid to come out. He accused weak leaders of politicizing sexual orientation.
In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the new law as his own party fractured over his perceived desire to run for re-election next year.
"You are like, mmm, what's a cheap, easy way to score points, because you always need gangs right? Every human being has a bit of gangster in him," Wainaina said. “You should press the right button."

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