Kenya is on my mind. We view it as one of the success stories, where dialogue has occurred on the issue of our sexuality.
There are gay Kenyans. And, gay sex is criminalized.
But, in the same country, there has been negotiation and a successful HIV prevention and care programme is ongoing. That is a matter of fact. The demonisation by the church and mosque which has been ongoing for years in Uganda has not been in Kenya. But, it seems as if the potential is there.
First, I received this email.
I am not one to spam your mail boxes, but there is trouble brewing in Mombasa, one of our Guys made a joke last week that he was getting married to his lover, this issue has been picked by Radio Rahma and it's inciting Muslims against Gay men. They are planning a demonstration tomorrow after their 1:00pm prayers we fear that they will target our office as they are announcing in the mosques that it's the meeting place of gays and that we are encouraging the practice, another local Radio station Kaya FM has been inciting women to demonstrate against gay men who are taking away their husbands. We ask for your prayers and any support in the area of media advocacy, anyone with links to the police can get in touch with me so that we can arrange for security of our office especially tomorrow thanks
This was on Friday morning. Before the prayers. The Coast of East Africa is predominantly Moslem. That is historical. So, it seems that there were rumours of a gay wedding. They were fanned by some fm stations (Rahma andKaya), and there was a planned demonstration by Moslems, after Friday Prayers.
So, what really happened? From the BBC, apparently the wedding didnt take place. But, those who were 'rumoured' to be wedding had repercussions.
Local chiefs and Kenyan officials have prevented a planned "gay wedding" in Kenya - where such unions are illegal.The marriage had been due to take place in a private villa near the resort of Mombasa but chiefs took action after it was reported in the local press. "I was shocked... I won't allow it," Chief Hussein Swaleh told the BBC.
Councillors in the Mnarani area near Mombasa planned protests against the union and wanted to evict the two men from their houses. "We had planned with our area chiefs to give them notices... and tell these people to move from our area," said councillor Esther Kache.
Whatever ceremony was supposed to happen didnt take place. Or was there actually a ceremony planned? Kind of hard to know. You have to understand that in this kind of situation, rumours become facts and become loaded facts and others. They do.
And, as a follow up on that, the ceremony didnt take place. Here is another BBC report, which seems to be about the same thing. At the end of that article, there is this.
On Thursday, two other men abandoned their plans to get married at a seaside villa in the same area after local authorities complained. The couple and their guests fled the coastal city when word spread that the police, government officers and members of the public were looking for them.
Police in Mtwapa, just north of the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa, say they have arrested five men whom they accuse of being homosexuals. District officer George Matandura said two of the men had been found with wedding rings, attempting to get married, in Kikambala beach resort.
So, wedding bands on two men means they plan to have a gay wedding?
The other three men were handed to the police by members of the public; two of them had reportedly been beaten. Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya but arrests are extremely rare. Crowds gathered outside the police station where the men were taken in protest at the presence of alleged homosexuals. The wedding was reportedly due to take place at a private villa in the resort, but locals heard of the plans and alerted the police, who raided a house and arrested the men.
Again it is important to note the kangaroo court kind of judgement and belief in rumours and other things. So, on Thursday, two men are forced to flee, with media reports, news and fm stations stoking the hysteria. And, on Friday, other foolish homosexuals decide to have a wedding? When I say we gay people are gay, not fools, people doubt me. But, I do doubt the accusations leveled at these men. Because they were in a private villa, and had wedding bands is surely not proof of an upcoming gay wedding?
And, have you noticed that the guys who are arrested have been beaten up? 'Mob justice' we call it in Uganda. Maybe we should be thankful they were not killed, by the mobs.
The mob is incited by the media. Then people who are suspected of being homosexuals are rounded up, beaten up, and accused of something that the crowd thinks is gross. And then they are handed over to the police. Does it sound familiar? The pogroms in Europe, against Jews and homosexuals. Now in Jamaica.
And, the Church and Mosque, those bastions of the morals of a community, start 'pontificating'
'Repugnant' behaviour, "We are grateful to the public for alerting the police. They should continue co-operating with the police to arrest more," Mr Matundura said."It is an offence, an unnatural offence, and also their behaviour is repugnant to the morality of the people. We shall use all means to curb this vice. Sheikh Ali Hussein. Council of Imams and Preachers
The district officer said the five, aged between 20 and 35, would "undergo a medical examination before we charge them with homosexuality," the AFP news agency reported. "We will move swiftly and close down bars which condone gays, lesbians, prostitution and drug abuse in their premises," Mr Matundura added.
Almost surreal. The guys have been accused of being homosexual, of planning a 'gay wedding'. They have been beaten up, because of the suspicion. And, the police is determined to convict them of something. So, anal exams, I guess. Humiliating. The supposed protecters only in with the crowd, the abusers. Because we are gay, we dont deserve any justice. Because we are gay, we are evil. And who can defend the evil gay person?
And, you wonder why I am a bitter gay man in Africa? The pontificating clerics, those who abuse us in the name of religion.
But the marriage allegedly planned was condemned by Muslim and Christian clerics. "We cannot allow these young boys to ruin their future through homosexuality," Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya told AFP. "We shall use all means to curb this vice." Bishop Lawrence Chai, of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, said: "This is immoral and we shall not allow it, especially here in Mtwapa." The five men are due to appear in court soon.
Mtwapa police boss K.K.Mutegi rescues a man from an angry mob on Friday after they attempted to attack him claiming he was gay. Photo/LABAN WALLOGA
By GALGALO BOCHAPosted Friday, February 12 2010 at 15:45
Couple flees but five others rescued as youths gather to stop nuptials. Kenya's would-be first gay wedding was violently stopped by protesting youths and police on Friday at Mtwapa near Mombasa, hours before it was due to take place. Police intervened as dozens of Christian and Muslim youth stormed the apartment where three men — including the gay couple — had been putting up, intent on flushing them out to stop the wedding.
They arrested five suspected homosexuals, including two who were rescued from youths baying for their blood but the local police chief later said no charges would be preferred. "I sent Mtwapa OCS to rescue them from angry residents baying for their blood because they were trying to conduct that marriage between men," said Kilifi police chief Grace Kakai. The wedding between two men had been scheduled to take place at a private villa. But the protesting youth, banded together under the banner of the so-called Operation Gays Out, were not done yet.
They went to the Kenya Medical Research Institute at Mtwapa claiming the institute was harbouring yet another gay man. The local station commander and a contingent of police officers calmed the angry youth who were preparing to storm the institute. Guards at Kemri refused to open the gate, fearing for their lives. Women yelled. Women who were among protesting locals, yelled at the top of their voices and called for an operation to flush out lesbians also claimed to be living among locals. "God created men to provide sexual pleasure to us (women). What will happen now that they have turned to each other? Who will marry our daughters," shouted a woman. A frightened Kemri employee told reporters that the centre was conducting an international science research project but she declined to elaborate. "This is international research project but wait for the head of the project to give you more information," she said. Religious leaders said the project should be terminated.
The research centre was opened by Dr Seth Berkley, President of International Aids Vaccine Centre on 27 March 2007.
Sheikh Hussein Ali, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Kikambala region coordinator and National Council of Churches of Kenya, Kilifi district representative Bishop Laurence Chai led Operation Gays Out. The two clerics declared having successfully stopped the homosexual nuptials that they said was announced to take place in the town 20 days ago. "We thank God for saving this town from being turned to Sodom and Gomorrah of this era as we may have been on the verge of being doomed," said Bishop Chai.