Voices Of Kenya shares testimonials of Kenyans who will be directly affected by failed attempt at decriminalising same-sex relationships

BY BEATRICE VASQUES. IMAGE ARTSY SOLOMON.

Same-sex relationships are still illegal in 70 countries, half of them in Africa, where queer people are still persecuted for their sexual orientation.

Kenya is – unfortunately – still one of them.

After a failed attempt at decriminalising same-sex relationships this week, with Kenya’s High Court declaring the possible change as “unconstitutional”, All Out — a movement that strives for a “world where no one has to sacrifice their family, freedom, safety, or dignity because of who they are” — has gathered testimonials from LGBTQI Kenyans who will be directly affected with this decision, with the project “Voices Of Kenya”.

These powerful accounts touch on subjects such as love, hope and the possibility of not being illegal anymore, reminding us of how far we still have to go…

Africa, Kisumu, 23

“The laws criminalizing same-sex conduct have given the Kenyan society an assumption that people who engage in these acts should be treated badly.

“The society has used these laws to strip human beings of their dignity. When persons suspected of engaging in same-sex conduct are subjected to anal examinations to “prove their homosexuality”, this not only strips them of their dignity but also their very humanity,

“When I was a student, I didn’t personally feel the effect of the laws. However, since I left school and from the conversations I have had with my friends, they have made us feel invisible. Invisible and illegal. We have been made to feel like an abnormality in the Kenyan society.”

Emanuela, Busia County, 30

“It is incredibly difficult for me to exist here as a transgender woman. These laws have taken space away from me. Space to exist as a Kenyan, space to exist as a transgender woman, space to exist as a woman,

“I am really looking forward to a ruling in our favour. I understand that any change will not come immediately. There will be a longer journey that we will have to travel in order to get to the point where we are all accepted. The judges will not immediately stop.”

Vivian

“As a lesbian who discovered herself at a very young age, the laws criminalizing same-sex conduct and everything that has resulted from them have killed everything that I have stood for.

“I have dreamt of being in politics, I have dreamt of being a public figure. I know I am good at all these things. But these laws are killing all these dreams.

“If the laws change, however, I would feel like a caged bird that has been set free… Our sexual orientation would no longer be a hindrance for growth.”

Ng’ethe, Nairobi, 47

“I really don’t know what will happen if the court rules in our favour. I do know however that there will be more ground to stand on against the persecution that people face on account of their sexuality. I hope that people will face less stigma and discrimination than they currently face.

“However, on a day to day basis, it really isn’t clear to me what will change from the ruling.”

Andrew, Nakuru, 30

“The sections of our penal code that criminalize same-sex conduct affect every single Kenyan. What they essentially do is legislate on things that consenting adults do in their bedrooms. This is the status quo of our country as it is. It is very volatile.

“Since we as a minority group are challenging the thoughts of the majority, the perceived threat that this causes can result in fear which then causes bullying, harassment and violence towards people due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

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