Kenya's LGBTIQ and Sex Work Magazine 'Gay, Straight or on The Rocks'
DECEMBER 2011 Identity Gay, Straight or on The Rocks Gasp, We Are All Sex Workers A Case For Legalizing Sex Work In Kenya Few historians dispute that sex work is as old as slavery and or human trafficking. Few scholars however, employ their legal wit to establish nexus between the present social prejudices and marginal perspectives to sex work with its historical development and legal relation to other forms of exploitation such as slavery and or human trafficking. This is illustrated further by the 1949 Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others which states that "prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person’’ requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes. This legal UN status is reflected in Kenyan laws in section 153 to 156 of the penal code which does not punish sex work per se but simply punishes soliciting, pimps, brothel owners and operator. It must be noted at this point that the criminalization of sex work in Kenya is arguably unconstitutional. It curtails the exercise of the freedom of expression by criminalizing a consensual adult act that does not breach peace, harm the neighbor or threaten national security. The criminalization traverses the enjoyment of the right to privacy by blurring the line between public and private consensual adult conduct and inherently flies loathe of the right to dignity by subjecting sex workers to live with an imminent fear of arrest which condition is degrading and inhuman. Continued on Page 12, 13; Related Story, Back Page Kenyan Lesbian Author Premiers Lesbian Novel Kerry Belchambers, a Kenyan lesbian has authored a fictional novel titled Cresswell Falls. The novel revolves around the lives of two women who are attracted to one another. Kenya.’ In addition, ‘She is also the first author in Kenya who identifies as lesbian and the first Kenyan to have her book published by Blue Feather Books Ltd.’ According to Gay Kenya, Kerry is ‘the first author to write a book about the love and life of a same sex couple published in Blue Feathers Books describes Kerry as ’A Kenyan native who writes because she loves to. She's an event planner. she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, roller-skating, and watching movies.’ Cresswell Falls details the lives of two women; one with an adulterous husband, the other a non-believer in love. Its available in Amazon, Bellabooks and Blue Feathers Books.— IDENTITY Identity SPECIAL GUEST EDITOR’S LETTER When Denis Nzioka, the Editor of Identity Magazine, approached me to write a special editor’s letter for this issue, I was honored. It’s remarkable that Identity Magazine is ever evolving with new features and ideas like this. This special third issue of your favorite Identity Magazine is in its own right a collectors issue not simply because it is an end of year issue, but also since its coming out hot on the heels of various key days of remembrance for the LGBTI and Sex Workers Community here in Kenya and globally. Just recently, we celebrated the Transgender Day of Remembrance on 26th November 2011, and then we had the World AIDS Day on the 1st of December 2011, Human Rights Day on the 10th of December 2011 and the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers Day on the 17th of December 2011. Each of these monumental days celebrates gains made, dispels misconceptions, recollects challenges faced, and renews hope in work done by and for these specific people. 2011 has been a great and interesting year. In terms of organizing, the Kenyan LGBTI community has seen great transitions with the leadership. A new energetic, hands-on, servant-leadership has emerged. In addition, a new breed of activists has been roped in, some in our professional work, others in freelance and they have proven amazing, hardworking and passionate. Likewise, the emergence of new social media and networks as well as regional LGBT organizing has been fantastic. Of special mention is Identity Magazine, which premiered to rare reviews from readers and established news sources like The Star, The Box Turtle, e.t.c. ‘All over the country, they're reading about me, and the story doesn't center on me being gay. It's just about a gay person who is doing his job.’ Harvey Milk The magazine continues to grow and to receive quite the support from near and far ones. It celebrates the ones who have given their time, service, and resources for this. Of key mention are Mr. A, Mr. GNM, Mr. AP, Mr. DP for their monetary contributions; Mr. Angus Parkinson, Mr. Eric Gitari, Mr. Jim Muthuri, Mr. Thomas McHale, Mr. Mwangi Githahu for their in-kind support, encouragement and advice; the columnists - Mona Kareithi, BarFly, Cole Mutahi, Kate Kamunde, Queer Watchtower, Monica Mbaru, MaqC Eric Gitau, Barbra Wangare for their input and sacrifice each month. Besides that, Identity Magazine has regular contributors who continue to share and write. They have included Akinyi M. Ocholla, Erik D. Wise, John Makokha, Eric Mawira Gitari, Renne Mboya, John Mathenge, Terrence Tendai, Nicholas Otieno, Relic Cheddy, Al Grey, Umra Omar, Daughtie Ogutu, Kenne Mwikya, Melissa Wainaina, Paul Canning, Nelson Mbugua and their ever resourceful, ever energetic Identity Magazine correspondents. To you all, I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude and thank you! The kind of 2012 year we look forward to as Identity Magazine is one of growth, expansion and consolidation. Through the efforts of the Editor, Identity Magazine is setting up internal structures and management features to help it mold into an authoritative news source for the LGBTQ and sex work community in Kenya. Likewise, the vision is to have Identity grace bookstores, libraries and newspaper stands come next year. Also to note is the wish to increase readership and subscription base and to ensure it is read far and wide and the same is done on its distribution scale. We are ever supportive of this. Together with the Editor, staff, columnists and contributors of Identity Magazine, I wish all readers, subscribers, partners, allies, supporters and donors of Identity Magazine a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. All the best in every imaginable way! MAQC ERIC GITAU Special Guest Editor, Identity Magazine | General Manager, Gay & Lesbian Coalition of Kenya Page 2 Identity CONTENTS INTERVIEW: Rev. Jide Macaulay, House of Rainbow; Af- 11; 18 firming, opening, all-embracing Christian pastor opens up on his life, vocation and ministry; reconciling faith and sexuality SOCIAL AND SAFE PLACES: History on bars loved by 14-15 homosexuals; how bars served as ‘safe spaces’ for an emerging community; significance of alcohol, music and dance HIV: Transgender women and HIV; Does the label of ‘MSM’ 19 include transgender women? What are the risks of ‘generalizing’ persons? Behavioral risk versus innate being ASK MBARU: Legal questions on LGBT; What steps can 20-22 one take when one is threatened for being gay? Is it alright for one to declare one’s sexual orientation? Yes, says Mbaru BLOGS: Diagnosed with HIV at a young age, our blogger 27-28 seeks to find meaning; re-examines life, sexual history; existential experiment on important events, decisions, relationship BIBLE & HOMOSEXUALITY: Sodom & Gomorrah ex- 31; 33 plained; historical interpretation of Scriptures; ‘clobber’ passages re-explained; Jesus is focal in accepting homosexuals EXPOSÉ: Gays in Kenya being used as sex slaves; recruiters 33 promise jobs in Arabic countries; sex enslavement rife in universities ‘’It’s my duty to speak out for people without a voice. We must end homophobia and strike down laws that discriminate against men who have sex with men, bisexuals, lesbians, and transgender people.’’ Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director Founder/ Editor-in-Chief/ Publisher | Denis Nzioka Assistant Editor | Thomas McHale Photography/Layout | Jim Muthuri Columnists | BarFly | Cole Mutahi | Kate Kamunde | Queer Watchtower | Monica Mbaru | MaqC Eric Gitau | Mona Kareithi | Barbra Wangare Contributors Akinyi M. Ocholla | Erik D. Wise | John Makokha | Eric Mawira Gitari | Nelson Mbugua | Identity Correspondents Photos/Logos/Images | Andrew Esiebo | George Moley | IPRO Designs | Jim Muthuri | Akinyi Ocholla | Freedom in Speech | Sources Identity Magazine © is founded, edited, published and distributed by the Denis Nzioka. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, utilized, reprinted, distributed or copied in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical - including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from Denis Nzioka. Page 3 Identity ‘Getting to 25 years and above has become a worrying period for each gay and lesbian person. They do not know what to expect but one thing is for sure; every coping strategy they apply either works or leaves them with blemish that is hard to erase’ so writes KATE KAMUNDE in her panoramic piece. Getting old is an issue that most gays would rather not think about, after all, we are ‘all fabulous’ and ‘fabulous’ is not aging. Sadly, reality sets in subtly and reminds us that indeed, growing old has its good sides only if we change our outlook and are happy with it. Life, they say, begins at 40, remember? Whereas the title of MSM has come to universally be accepted in main-stream HIV programming, it has deficiencies, albeit huge ones. For example, MSM describes more of a behavior and does not take into account the social and intricate features as well as identities of persons identified as MSM. This is more so exacerbated when it come to transgender women who are, unfortunately, classified as MSM. BARBRA WANGARE seeks to disabuse this label and argues that transgender women have particular issues when it comes to HIV. Generalization should not blanket the reality. 'Of course premature ejaculation isn't a laughing matter for anyone, except for your friends when you tell them about it on the phone the next morning, I think my first and last friendship with benefits ended because the main event was invariably over before he got his socks off' COLE MUTAHI writes in his piece. He meanders the world of dating, friends and dinners. Page 4 CONTRIBUTORS Reading Scripture in is entirety and taking into account its historical context is key to understanding the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a passage described as ‘clobber’ on its use as an example of Divine justice on ‘sodomy’ and by extension, homosexuality as a valid, legitimate form of sexual expression. ERIK D. WISE serves us just that in his piece on what REALLY Sodom & Gomorrah is. Identity magazine’s CORRESPONDENTS are volunteers, readers and contributors who share stories on events, situations, life and society. They focus on thematic areas such as HIV and AIDS, health, beauty, entertainment, the Arts, politics and general well-being. An avid reader and lesbian advocate, AKINYI M. OCHOLLA offers her insight on children born with intersex conditions and seeks to answer how this condition affects the child’s sexual orientation and gender identity. ‘If then the young adult finds that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is what comes naturally to them they should be allowed to live so freely. The implication then is that the right to self-determination must continue throughout adulthood’ Identity What Turning 25 Means For Gays, Lesbians As people that come from strict religious, social and cultural backgrounds, there are a lot of expectations riding on our backs from our forefathers, grandparents, parents, children, siblings and so on. When you get a new job, your employer expects you to deliver and be creative enough to come up with ideas that will steer the company or organization forward. For those that are parents, children for example expect that whenever you are out shopping, you will not appear at the doorstep without goodies for them to savor. Some lesbians have for example confined themselves to stereotypic boxes with tags like butch. Consequently, other same gender loving sisters expect them to conform to certain masculine behavioral patterns. Those that are in relationships have expectations that they have to constantly meet. When you, as a lesbian or gay man celebrate your 25th birthday questions from folks about your significant other, marriage plans among other expectations begin to surface, leaving you distraught and feeling ‘let down’ and then the constant temptation to just ‘come out’ and tell it as it is. This issue is a constant bother for a lot of the LGBTI persons. Those that panic and make rushed decisions end up in unions whose purpose is to clear any element of suspicion concerning their sexual orientation and gender identity issues. One gay man that sent us an email begged to be introduced to a lesbian woman who would constantly accompany him home, but he would never have sexual relations with. Such arrangements have come up as a result of the ‘mega expectation radar’ set by society. It is ordinary that once you get to a certain age and have a stable job and income then the next automatic things is to be seen hanging around members of your opposite sex. This process begins preparing your folks, psychologically, to build upon the imaginations of them gyrating their hips and showing you off on your ‘I do’ day. These days, noticing a baby bump before marriage is not such a big issue since it is seen as a move to the right direction (heterosexuality). When you take too long giving them a reason to smile, they get into your business and will go to extents of introducing you to certain families they approve of and encourage you to hang around their sons/ daughters, if only something good (a union) will come out of it. Many gay and lesbian persons have gotten into depression over these issues and have resulted to drug and substance abuse, assuming it will help them ‘cope’. Others have sought counseling or come to us for assistance and we are helpless because there is nothing much we can do. I cannot recommend that you get hitched to please those you love that all is well because once you are done doing that then you open a new chapter to unhappiness. When you decide to end it to pursue happiness, their hearts will break anyway so save yourself the trouble. Sadly, there are those that have dealt with the pressure by committing suicide. That one takes their life, for the fear of revealing their sexual orientation, rejection, being looked at as the rotten potato in the sack, to free themselves from the truth they live is unfathomable. It destroys the core of my being. Better still, many have managed to ignore the whole issue and as many times as the wound still rears it is ugly head, they manage to dump the pile to a corner and deal with it at a later time. This may mean avoiding trips home and substituting that with phone calls where when such questions are raised, you make a joke out of it, wishing it all away. You could move. ~Abigail Van Buren, "Dear Abby," in response to a reader who complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and wanted to know what he could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood Those that relate very closely with their parents may be more comfortable disclosing that they do not wish to get into heterosexual unions or have children. Their parents end up getting concerned to the point of seeking a clergy’s spiritual intervention if not enroll them for psychological counseling sessions. The least number is those that are brave enough to take the bull by it is horns and admit that they are attracted to people of the same sex, a process we all refer to as ‘coming out.’ The father blames the mother for bringing insanity into the world, forgetting that he was part of the process of procreation that brought your life to being! You are disowned and disconnected from family and as time, which progresses to months and even years, they eventually deal with it and slowly begin getting in touch while they silently wish you are going through a phase that would soon disappear as quietly as it came. Continued on Page 13 Page 5 Identity CONTRIBUTORS BARFLY continues his reminiscing of bars and gays in Nairobi offering us a historic , if not entertaining view of the role that bars served as ‘social places’, albeit safe, for the nascent, and emerging gay community of the 90’s in Nairobi. Ever fresh, ever magnetic, his chronicles serve as an anthology that needs to be documented lest we forget where we have come from. ‘Caritas Christi urget nos’ so reads a Latin passage in the Bible. Its translates to ‘The love of Christ urges me on’ This is ever more evident in the ministry of Other Sheep AfrikaKenya whose leader, REV. JOHN MAKOKHA, is ever pushing to have LGBT persons live as free, capable and worthy sons of GOD despite challenges, personal threats and difficulties he faces. Married with kids, he proves that ‘allies’ come in many forms. Page 6 A graduate from the University of Nairobi, critic, analyst and radical advocate, ERIC MAWIRA GITARI is a young, social and intelligent activist whose repertoire and credentials are hard to match. A brilliant writer, he offers legal arguments in favor of homosexuality and sex work in Kenya through well-researched, thoughtful and flowing articles. One of his caps is that he organized the first ever public IDAHO celebrations in Kenya; an event heralded as pioneering and daring. ‘Under the Kenyan law there is no offence against sexual orientation and or gender identity. You can shout from the roof tops and mountains about being gay’ says MONICA MBARU (extreme left), our resident legal expert, lawyer, LGBT advocate and women’s rights activist. She answers questions from readers on issues such as arrests, assaults, inheritance, e.t.c. For her, a thorough knowledge of the law as well as interpretation is one way to liberate the gay community from oppression and discrimination. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and she seeks to make sure all know their rights, what they can do, what they cannot do and what the Law has to say. A young gay Kenyan living with HIV, NELSON MBUGUA is a blogger and writer who shares his life story and outlook after testing positive. Looking back at his life, he tires to find meaning and fulfillment that was almost lost with his diagnosis. Fighting stigma as gay man and also one living with HIV, he faces life with enthusiasm and freshness. Described as a ‘first’ Nelson brings to light a subject that most in the Kenyan gay community would rather not speak about— HIV. As Manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), MAQC ERIC GITAU, has the management of the LGBT movement on his hands. His experience at the just concluded ICASA conference offers fodder for his piece as he examines the relationship between criminalization and the spread of HIV as well as barriers against LGBT people. Identity SIMON ‘GISELE’ MAMICHA (1982-2011) When I first met Simon Mamicha, I was in black pants, black shirt, black shoes, black socks. The only non-black thing on me was my Roman collar. And I was in Tacos, a gay bar in town. Back then, I was a Jesuit student, gay, and was meeting other gay people. In came Simon Mamicha, short and looking like a black Tellytubbly. His fat cheeks and ever smiling face reminded me of Friar Tuck. Clearly, he was an in-house celeb what with him greeting, high-fiving and cracking jokes with the other patrons. Later, he sat down and I couldn’t help but look at him. In fact, he did notice me looking at him. One of my close friends called Ken told me that Simon Mamicha told him, ‘That priest is giving me the hibby jibbies. I do not like the way he is looking at me.’ That was the start of our whirlwind friendship with Mamicha that involved drama, fights, drugs, alcohol, sex and more drama. The first time I saw Mamicha in drag was in his house. He had invited me for his birthday bash in Umoja and I showed up with a white teddy bear and chocolate as my gift. To the day he died, the white teddy bear is reserved a place near his TV to always remind him of this gesture. Mamicha was a fun loving, absurdly hilarious, warm and hospitable. I was a frequent visitor to his house and this led to some unfounded rumors that we were an item. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Mamicha was like a ‘sister’ to me. Yes, we did sleep in the same bed together frequently but nothing happened. I think once we met there was this beyond-lust connection, something more powerful, something transcendental, than sex would ever fulfill. He was particularly handsome, no denying that but me and him were just friends for life. The parties were fun, drinking was totally out of this world and through it all, we stuck together. With the exception of friction here and there, we maintained the mutuality till his demise last month. In fact, I was the last person to post on his Wall a clip about Gisele Bundchen and the Victoria’s Secrets Show. His hospitableness is legendary. Ever ready to house or host gay people in his house, Simon made lasting impressions. He was ever ready to listen, help and laugh. The outpouring that followed the announcement that he had passed on was near celeb-dom. Indeed, Simon, in his eulogy was described as ‘an in-house celeb’ A page dedicated to him attracted over 200 fans and it continues to this day. The condolence messages, photos and memories that were shared were very emotive and moving. I am sure wherever he is, he is smiling knowing he touched so many lives and so many people. His funeral was well attended by members and friends of the gay community. We had come to show solidarity and support for one of our own. And in true Mamicha style, we had our fair share of drama, drunks and divas. It was a celebration, not a mourning. Simon’s legacy in life methinks is best seen in one of his favorite maxim, ‘The best things in life are free.’ It was this freedom that allowed him to express his inner self, his sexuality and personality and for that, I can say he lived life to the fullest! I end with a quote from his Facebook profile that reads, ‘I am a down to earth guy who loves life, fun and making friends. I am cool when happy but when you disrespect me, I can be VENOMOUS’ Page 7 Identity Kenya MSM Activist, Simon Mamicha, Laid To Rest Simon Mamicha, a member of Ishtar MSM and an MSM activist who died last month was laid to rest at his father’s home in Uthiru, Nairobi. He had been admitted to Coptic Hospital following a series of health complications. He died from liver failure according to family. Until his death, Simon worked for a security firm in Westlands and lives in Umoja, Eastlands of Nairobi. Family, friends and mourners gathered at the Umash Funeral Home on Mbagathi Way on December 7th to pay tribute. before reaching his father’s home an hour later. More than 200 mourners participated in the funeral service before the viewing of the body. Emotions ran high as family and close friend broke down. Mourners had gathered at the home and there was commotion when his irate father began to denounce the ‘cult his son had joined’ referring to his son’s sexual orientation. This comment took many of his friends in surprise. The cortege left Umash for Uthiru in a convoy of cars His body was finally laid to rest at 4pm. Simon Mamicha Gay Party In Kisumu Marred By Security Threats A gay party in the lakeside city of Kisumu was held under tight security following a security warning issued by a local gay rights group, Nyawek Coalition. The organizers of the ‘KIPE Pink Christmas Party’ said that the turnout was affected following a late communication from NYAWEK an LGBT coalition group based in Kisumu. Despite this, over 150 revelers packed the Duke of Breeze hotel where the party was held till 2am in the morning. There was high security with the local police manning the entry to the venue as well as inside the party. This, accord- ing to Mutisya Leonard, Director of KIPE, was done to assure revelers of security. There was strict vetting done at the entrance and only invited persons attended. Among the highlights of the party was a fashion show to crown Mr & Mrs KIPE. ‘Every time a gay man ‘comes out,’ and angel gets its wing’ Anon David Kuria Calls It Quits From Gay Activism Kenyan gay activist and former Manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), David Kuria has officially announced his retirement from gay activism. In a signed article for the Gay Kenya newsletter, Kuria announced that after 10 years of acPage 8 tivism, he had decided to call it quite and allow ‘for others to take us to the next generation of activism.’ ing GALCK from a nondescript LGBT rights group to one of Africa’s poster child organization. The retirement will be carried out after the AGM of Gay Kenya, where Kuria served as Director since his departure from GALCK. He is currently finishing his Masters in Finances as well as pursuing political office by contesting for the Senator’s post in Kiambu county. Kuria is credited with steer- David Kuria Identity Male Sex Workers Living With HIV, AIDS Launch Group In Nairobi Male sex workers converged at the Railways Club in Nairobi to launch HOYMAS, a group that fights for the health rights of male sex workers and access to prevention and treatment of HIV to its members. HOYMAS is a registered CBO whose members are primarily male sex workers living with HIV and AIDS, Men who have Sex with other Men and young persons living with HIV and AIDS. The event attracted close to 200 participants. In addition, representatives of sex worker groups, LGBT activist and health representatives were in attendance. The event, organized by HOYMAS and funded by local grant making group UHAI EASHRI has been hailed as a first for male sex workers. In attendance were members of HOYMAS, representatives of SWOP, GALCK and Identity. The highlight of the show was the fashion show to crown Mr. Red Ribbon 2011 as well as a candle lighting ceremony. The event ended at 4pm with lunch being served. John Mathenge, one of the founders of HOYMAS and an MSM health, HIV activist and KESWA National Coordinator Kenyan Imams, Muslims Demand Explanation On Gay Rights The National Council Of Imams wants the government to stop being ambiguous on the issue of same sex marriages. The imams are taking issue with Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo's assertion to the effect that gay couples would be left alone as long as they do not make their relationship public. The Muslim clerics are responding to the UK and US directive that aid to African countries will be pegged to how LGBT persons are treated. According to Mutula, same sex marriages will not be permitted. However, in a public meeting, Mutula is quoted as saying that gay people are free to do what they want as long as its private. The leaders are quoted as saying ‘The effects of homosexuality are far worse than any medicine can cure. We will not accept behavior that is against the will of GOD.’ Members of the National Council of Imams and Preachers during a street protest Kenya Gay Community Marks World AIDS Day Kenya’s gay, lesbian and transgender community marked World AIDS Day with two social responsibilities in Kisumu and Nairobi. In Kisumu, local advocacy groups, NYAWEK organized a sports day where members joined others in the national Page 9 celebration. The event saw footballers drawn from the community participate in a match to raise HIV awareness. In Nairobi, members led by the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) con- verged at Nyumbani Children's Homes, a Catholic institution that caters to children born or living with HIV and AIDS where they donated foodstuff and played games. World AIDS Day is marked each year on December 1st. GALCK members at Nyumbani Children's Home to mark World AIDS Day Identity A Bullet For My Valentine I was eagerly looking forward to an exciting Valentine’s day I hardly slept I was thinking about her and smiling in bed It took all night I bought her flowers the day before Soaked them in cold sugary water To keep their scent fresh for her I kept smelling them… imagining that she was looking at me through each petal I checked on them every once in a while To be sure that they were not gone with the wind! The morning came and I jumped out of bed My eyes sagging through bags I could hardly carry They had multiplied and I could feel them every time I yawned Took a shower in the speed of light I could not wait to see her Arrived at the café and grabbed a cuppa’ coffee as I waited to see her feet hurry to meet me It took an hour, almost a life time until out of the blues She appeared, joy written all over her face A day to remember I ran forth to hug her We kissed and for the first time in my life Never cared what onlookers would think about us I held her hand, pulled a chair for her, as we caught up on how our past week had been She asked for coffee, I kept sipping on to mine This moment should not end, I kept mumbling to my self I unleashed my gifts for my valentine A hand-made card, the carefully tended flowers and a box with a cheap ring in it Went down on my knee Took her hand and kissed it tenderly Then asked if she would be my valentine She kissed me on the cheek Opened the box with the ring Slowly and lovingly slipped it on my index finger Her right hand fumbled for her dress pocket Took out a black colored equipment Put it on my forehead And without thinking, shot through me Forever my Love Silence! KATE KAMUNDE Page 10 Identity Interview—Jide Macaulay, House of Rainbow Rev., Jide Macaulay (inset) was recently in Kenya. He talks with Identity Magazine. Q: Do introduce yourself to our readers I am Rowland Jide Macaulay, I am Nigerian born in London United Kingdom, I trained as a Lawyer in the UK and worked with the Crown Prosecution Service for 12 years, I am one of five children, I also trained as a theologian primarily ordained in 1998, I am currently progressing my education on liberation and MA in Pastoral Theology. I enjoy poetry and mild form of exercise. Q: How did you find you trip to Kenya early this year? Anything made an impression? My trip to Kenya in May 2011 was my first visit to East Africa and I found the cities and towns easy to navigate, I spent my time in Nairobi and Mombasa, the people are extremely friendly, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people and especially to see the wonderful work of the LGBT community. I was very impressed by the culture, history and the generosity of the people of Kenya. I also fell in love with Kenyan tea. Q: How has the experience been of you living in a foreign country, despised back home and leading a ministry that some consider an insult to mainstream churches and beliefs? I do not see myself as living in a foreign country, I was born in the UK and I believe it is my home, I identify with Nigeria and thus very proud of my dual citizenship, this gives me the opportunity to address some of the problem and bring an understanding that is safe, inclusive and liberating for LGBT people and other marginalized groups in the society. There are problems in the UK too such as racism, economic inequality and there is no where that does not have a major human problem, but we must continue to work with government and civil society to address the imbalance and find human solution. House Of Rainbow Fellowship may be seen as an insult and I will not be surprise, Jesus ministry was an insult to the Jews when he walked on earth, John the Baptist was insulted and abused daily and later beheaded for his beliefs, I believe where there are strong oppositions, we must find strong religious people raising their voices against such, Jesus cares about people and he spent his time with “sinner” and outcast, this should not be different if we are to take our Christian faith more seriously. The Lord is my Shepherd and he knows I'm gay. Troy Perry House Of Rainbow is a bible believing ministry inclusive and welcoming to all persons regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, we believe that our differences is a blessing and we learn from each other. We have come to believe that this is the time that some religious truths are shared, Ephesians 4:14-15a, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love”. Q: From your interactions with the gays and lesbians who attended the Sunday service, what are your thoughts? When gays and lesbians attend Sunday devotion, this is important and an opportunity to express themselves to God in the assembly of other Christians, we must be careful of segregation or creating an exclusive group, we must endeavour to create dialogue with the wider Christian family for inclusion, LGBT exclusion will not be the first in the history of the Church, Black people, women and children suffered violence by the church, but now there is recognition of restoration and reconciliation, such as all age service which include children and some denomination now ordain women as priest. The important thing for Christians to note in the message of Christ is to know that there are no strangers in the sight of God, we are members of one body, one family in Christ, when we receive healing or a blessing from God, when we show ourselves in the communities that excludes us, giving thanks to God, this is to the glory of God, in the words of Paul to the Galatians, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”(3:28). Continued on Page 18 Page 11 Identity Further, it dehumanizes sex workers and denies them the equal right with other persons to recognition as a person worth of equal and full rights in tandem with dignity as availed in article 3 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and chapter four of the constitution of Kenya. By criminalizing sex workers, it removes the sex worker from the protection of the law thus infringing the constitutional right for equal protection and equal benefit of the law. Denying such protections legitimizes discrimination, sanctions human rights violations and triggers a chain of abuse and harassment by state and non state actors. Besides the civil and political rights, the criminalization offends the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which guarantees right of self-determination for all. This convention guarantees that right to freely determine political status and freely pursue social and cultural development and take part in culture life. Compelling sex workers to change into popular morality culture and observance work they don’t desire simply amounts to a blatant disregard of the right to self determination, pursuit of one’s own culture, and infringes the inherent dignity in the human person of the sex worker to choose and pursue their culture. I call it sex work and not prostitution because of the essence in its definition and the historical definitive stigma and derogation associated with the word prostitute. According to Anti slavery International, prostitutes are generally regarded as a social category, as women who do not adhere to sexual and other behavioral norms; pitied or despised, excluded from mainstream society, with their lowly and marginal position analogous to that of a low caste or minority ethnic group. This outcast status denies them whatever international, national or customary protection from abuse that is available to others as citizens, women or workers. This social exclusion renders the prostitute vulnerable to exploitation. The word sex work however redefines commercial sex as an income-generating activity or form of employment not just for women but also and men and transgendered persons. As such it can be considered along with other forms of economic activity. An employment or labor perspective is a ‘Sex is interesting, but necessary, if not sufficient, condition for making sex work a part of the mainstream debate on human, it's not totally women's, and workers' rights at local, national and international level. The marginal position of sex workers in society excludes them from the international, national and customary protection afforded to others important. I mean it's not even as important as citizens, workers or women. (physically) as excretion. A man can go seventy years without a piece of ass, but he can die in a week without a bowel movement’ Whatever one may think of sex work, the sale by consenting adults of sex for money, per se, should be a Charles Bukowski non event in our legal system. Sex work is a very voluntary sale (or rental) of a labor service. Individuals are sovereign over their own bodies and their own labor services and have the absolute right to decide how those labor services should be used. As long as the sex work transaction is voluntary, there is no justification for governmental interference. What role does the government have to play in the sex work market besides ensuring that all exchanges are truly voluntary? The government should only protect individual rights to property, especially the right not to be coerced. Sex work may be the world's oldest profession, and laws prohibiting it are the oldest example of government regulation and government discrimination based on sex. But in an open and democratic society as ours, based on the constitution of Kenya 2010, as alluded above, laws that criminalize sex work are unconstitutional because they violate the basic rights and liberties of the individuals involved such as privacy, equality, non discrimination and expression among others. Religious-based arguments asserting the immorality of sex work should be given no legal credence. In a society that separates church and state, no person should lose their freedom because of someone else's religious beliefs. Only those actions that can be demonstrated by empirical evidence, independently of religious dogma, to warrant criminal sanctions should be punished. I appreciate the right wing feminist who argue that sex work is not a conscious and calculated choice but one coerced by money thus money acting as a form of force, not as a measure of consent. That it acts like physical force does in rape. I also appreciate with an equal measure of dignity as one coming from the third world that sometimes persons who become sex workers can do so because they were forced or coerced by a pimp or by human trafficking, or, when it is an independent decision, is generally the result of extreme poverty and lack of opportunity, or of serious underlying problems, such as drug addiction, past trauma (especially child sexual abuse) and other unfortunate circumstances. Page 12 Identity I however beg to differ with these right wing feminists; such stale theories are based on outdated notions of sexuality that existed to constrain sexual practice and regulate the behavior and sexual expression of women. Indeed, such an analysis asserts that anti-sex work feminists are themselves pandering to a construction of sexuality that is a product of the patriarchy. This is part of a binary construction of women's' identity as being either a 'good girl' or 'bad girl', a notion which we must undermine if we have to achieve equality inclusive of diversity in expression of sexuality and gender. To be reduced to a stale analysis and theoretical debate which doesn’t appreciate the personal stories and accounts of sex workers, feminists are themselves contributing to the marginalization of prostitutes, simplifying the nature of the work they carry out and the personal circumstances that involve each individual. Further, the paternalistic argument that women need to be protected from sexual exploitation fails to justify the continued criminalization of sex work. This argument claims that in order to protect women against such exploitation, society should imprison all women who engage in sex work. This argument is reducible to a claim that languishing behind bars is a preferable fate for a woman as opposed to allowing her to freely sell her body, if this is what she chooses to do. Thus, the advocates of this argument would prevent women from being degraded by demeaning them even more severely by locking them up in a prison cell. Legalizing it would provide prostitutes with a license. This license would require regular testing and minimize the possibility of transmitting diseases. Licensing also screens out criminals, addicts, the diseased, and the under aged. It would require and provide drug testing, medical checks and health education. Legitimate solicitation would replace pimps and organized crime. In Amsterdam, Holland, this procedure was tested and worked phenomenally. Spreading diseases was reduced and they set up ‘zones' where it was legal, and family oriented people who did not want this occurring in their neighborhood, chose not to live in those designated areas. This tight zoning eliminates insecure and unsafe areas due to the immense secu‘The emotional, rity. In concluding, let the preamble to the international charter of sex workers beacon our jurisprudence in its citation that, ‘’Like other entertainment workers of the world, sex workers use brain, ideas, emotion and sex organs, in short, their entire body and their mind to make people happy. As entertainment workers, they simply seek governmental recognition and fulfillment of their just professional demands and freedoms.’’ Redress is in striking out section 153 to 156 of the penal code which fly loathe of the new constitutional dispensation in Kenya; that of equality, liberty and dignity for all, sex workers included! - ERIC MAWIRA GITARI sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, "It's a girl."‘ Shirley Chisholm 25 And Fabulous... Getting to 25 years and above has become a worrying period for each gay and lesbian person. They do not know what to expect but one thing is for sure; every coping strategy they apply either works or leaves them with blemish that is hard to erase. Those that are ostracized are crushed emotionally, physically and socially and result to lying that they changed to heterosexuality, making everyone else think homosexuality is a choice. Inside, they die every day, knowing that they will never really get to be themselves and happy. Emotional misery becomes their constant companion. The pain in a voice that describes how sorry one feels sorry for their parents for expecting too much that may not come to be, the frustration that they cannot conform to their expectations, the fear of being branded a failure and the coming out issues they have to deal with during every stage of their life are a gay man and woman’s worst fears. However much we remain a happy people in every aspect of living our lives, this issue does not appear to be one that will go away any time soon.—KATE KAMUNDE Page 13 Identity Nairobi Gay Bars: The Westlands Connection We continue our story in the mid 1990s. Because of poor security, Nairobi city centre was no longer the place for ‘the fabulous gay people’ to be hanging around at night. The Westlands shopping district, often referred to as a ‘city within a city’ was beginning to look more attractive as were other upmarket suburban shopping areas such as the Hurlingham and Kilimani area where The Jazz Bar had opened up at the Yaya Centre. But Westlands seemed to be where the action was by late 1994. The area around Woodvale Grove, which runs from where Gipsy Bar stands today to the junction with Mpaka Road (the street that houses bars such as The Black Diamond today) was the centre of most action. Starting on Woodvale Grove in JimKan house there was JK’s (or was it JayKays?). For a while this bar was popular with the glamour gay crowd, but for whatever reason this dalliance did not last. Briefly, some of the crowd hung out at the Crooked Q on the same street. I recall some of my friends telling me that the sight of all the hot guys playing pool was enough of an incentive to keep them regular visitors to Q’s as we called it. At the end of Mpaka Road in the Fuji Plaza, there was Iguana. For a while this bar too was popular with a segment of the gay crowd, but again this popularity did not last. Meanwhile, in the basement of the Mall there was what seemed to be a discreetly gay friendly bar in the shape of the D Junction. However the bar was just becoming popular when the original owner just left one day and never returned. He left his cousin managing the place, but after a while it closed down and that was the end of that. Meanwhile, the old faithful Pizza Garden was bubbling along with it’s attraction for deeply closeted types who felt free there for whatever reason. ‘’I will not allow to be treated as a second class citizen because of my sexual orientation’’ Frank Mugisha And then in August 1994 at the end of Woodvale Grove where it meets Waiyaki Way in the building di- Back on Woodvale Grove, or rather just off it, in Centro House there was a small, cosy, little place called Nix Taverna. Nix had great food and a few exclusive gay guys got to know about it and would hang out there. It was not a gay bar, but the owner was very relaxed about matters of sexuality and some of the staff were also thought to be what some referred to as “gay for pay.” rectly across the street from the Barclays Bank entrance of what was once Agip House, an old restaurant called the Hunter’s Den which was based on the first floor acquired an empty shop directly beneath it and turned it into a basic spit and sawdust pub with the curious name of Gipsy Bar. Perhaps the stars were in the correct alignment in the heavens, perhaps it was the attraction of being sandwiched in between two ATM machines (Barclays to the front and Standard Chartered to the right) but something clicked for the bar and for the gay crowd as instantly Gipsy bar became the place to see and be seen. It was an upmarket bar and so the price of booze was expensive and at first only a small well-heeled minority of gay men hung out. This group was further divided into a younger more outgoing crowd and a slightly more mature chilled out group. The crowd was what one might describe as cosmopolitan with a racially mixed crowd which like the management felt it was sophisticated enough to not make a big deal of the gay minority that also seemed happy to feel at home there. As its fame spread amongst both the local and the expat gay community, as well as amongst the upmarket sex work community, Gipsy became more and more popular but it was not until 1996 or 1997 that it became infamous as ‘gay on Tuesdays.’ People even guide books such as Lonely Planet and Spartacus started speaking of it as gay on Tuesday night around 1996/1997 when by sheer happenstance Gipsy bar became the place to be for Nairobi gays across the social spectrum every Tuesday night. What had happened was that the people behind another bar, the late lamented Tusks, just past Runda on the Limuru Road, had decided to dip their fingers into the market for the pink shilling. They had decided to make their quietest night of the week, Tuesday, a sort of open night for gay people and their friends. The venue became a safe place for the community on Tuesday, so much so that even seriously closeted types felt quite free to show their faces at Tusks on a Tuesday. Page 14 Identity What had happened was that the people behind another bar, the late lamented Tusks, just past Runda on the Limuru Road, had decided to dip their fingers into the market for the pink shilling. They had decided to make their quietest night of the week, Tuesday, a sort of open night for gay people and their friends. The venue became a safe place for the community on Tuesday, so much so that even seriously closeted types felt quite free to show their faces at Tusks on a Tuesday. The unspoken rule was what happens at Tusks stays at Tusks and it seemed to work. Gipsy become involved because many in the community did not have cars but Gipsy being close to the busy Westlands bus stop and taxi rank, was a convenient place to meet up and share a ride to Tusks and to have a last one for the road at about 1130pm when Tusks had closed and everyone was headed back to wherever they came from. Just like that the ‘gay on Tuesdays’ label stuck and would stick for a very long time. In actual fact Gipsy was never a gay bar, it was just a bar where a number of gay and lesbian people felt comfortable and were able to meet and socialise without worrying too much about what the management, staff or other patrons thought.—BAR FLY More about Gipsy and Nairobi’s first real openly gay bar in the next issue. Research Assistant Vacancy—SMUG Uganda Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is now in the process of becoming a network of close to seven LGBT organizations dedicated to ending violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Uganda is looking for a Research Assistant with experience in human rights work focusing on LGBT people. Based in Kampala Uganda, the research assistant’s prime responsibility will be: • Review the research plans to date and develop a the list of interviewees • Do background preparation for the interviews and refine the questions for each interviewee. Coordinate plans with the research team for all aspects of the research, workshops and video interviewing. Page 15 Document the contact information for all interviewees and provide copies to PI, Africa research team chair and SMUG. Translation • Keep orderly records of the interviews, research data and informed consent forms. REQUIREMENTS 1. Preferably a bachelor’s degree. 2. Three years experience in research on human rights issues or working with the LGBT movements regionally. 3. Fluent in English both written and spoken 4. Ability to work effectively within a team 5. Excellent analytical, conceptual, writing and editing skills and use of computer software 6. Excellent communication and data collecting skills. Competitive salary commensurate with qualifications and experience will be offered. APPLICATIONS Please send resume and cover letter detailing how your qualifications, skills and experience are relevant to the scope of work to: SMUG Kampala Uganda Email: email@example.com Applications must reach SMUG by 15th/January/2012. SMUG will unfortunately only be able to respond to short-listed candidates. ‘’Gay Rights are Human Rights. It should never be a crime to be gay. Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality." Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State Identity Trouble In ICASA Over MSM Conference A meeting to address issues around HIV and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) went ahead as scheduled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 3 December, despite protests and calls for its cancellation by local religious leaders. The meeting – held a day before the opening of the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections in Africa (ICASA) – was organized by the South African-based NGO, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR). Originally due to be held at a local hotel, the venue quietly shifted to the UN compound in Addis Ababa. According to participants, it attracted more than 150 participants from 25 African countries, and focused on a d d r e s s i n g the problems MSM faced in accessing HIV services. Speakers scheduled included UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe. Before the meeting, four religious leaders had called a press conference to denounce it. Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, persuaded them to cancel the press conference, but that did not stop anti-gay activists from trying to force the cancellation of the meeting. Venue of ICASA 2011, Addis, Ethiopia Obama, Clinton Make LGBT Aid, Foreign Policy Issue The Obama administration announced that the US would use all the tools of American diplomacy, including the potent enticement of foreign aid, to promote gay rights around the world. In a memorandum issued by President Obama in Washington and in a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the admini- stration vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct, abuse gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered people, or ignore abuse against them. “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct,” Mrs. Clinton said at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, “but in fact they are one and the same.” She challenged nations around the world to recognize that "gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," building on an order by Obama directing all U.S. agencies to "promote and protect" the rights of gay people.’ President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Nigeria Passes Anti-Gay Bill The Nigerian senate has passed a bill banning samesex marriages, defying a threat from Britain to withhold aid from nations violating gay rights. convicted of homosexuality. Anyone who aids or "abets" same-sex unions faces 10 years in prison, a provision that could target rights groups. The bill by Africa's most populous nation calls for a 14 -year sentence for anyone It goes to the nation's House of Representatives for a vote before President Goodluck Page 16 Jonathan can sign it into law. "It would place a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions, including human rights defenders in Nigeria," Amnesty International said in a statement. Nigeria Flag Identity Study: ‘Gay Marriage Improves Health’ A US study of the effect of equal marriage rights claims gay and bisexual men lead healthier lives when those rights are introduced, regardless of whether they have a partner. The study, entitled “Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Health Care Use and Expenditures in Sexual Minority A gay couple Men: A Quasi-Natural Experiment,” is published in the American Journal of Public Health. It found that costs associated with hypertension, depression and adjustment disorders decreased after equal marriage rights were introduced, whether a man had a partner at the time or not. Author Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said: “Our results suggest that removing these barriers improves the health of gay and bisexual men. UN Publishes Historic SOGI Report; Highlights Abuses United Nations The UN’s Human Rights Council has published for the first time a report detailing rights abuses against LGBT people around the world, through violence and discriminatory laws, and a set of recommendations all countries should adopt to protect their citizens. The document says global governments “have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” and many enforce laws and practices which infringe human rights. abused, by criminal violence against LGBT people and by the discriminatory laws and practices adopted by some states. The report outlines what obligations the world’s governments have, and how individuals’ rights are currently ‘Trains, Road, Water Before Homosexuals’ Museveni The president of Uganda has warned Western nations not to put strings on foreign development aid for the sake of LGBT rights. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda Page 17 "Before anyone gives me a lecture about homosexuals and their rights, first talk about railways," President Yoweri Museveni told delegates at a regional meeting in the capital city of Kampala with several other African heads of state. "Homosexuals also need electricity, homosexuals also need roads, homosexuals also need railways.” In Uganda, homosexuality is punishable by up to life in prison. A controversial bill that calls for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts was recently re-introduced in the Ugandan parliament after lawmakers failed to debate it during the last session of the Legislature. Identity (Inset; Rev Jide with Rev Michael Kimindu, President of Other Sheep-Afrika) Q: What would you say is the difficulty with getting LGBT persons to be religious or attend church or even believe in GOD? There are no difficulties for LGBT people believing in God, many Africans are born into religious home, but the interpretation and message of inclusion is paramount to sustaining them in the religious communities. However, the problem is finding a congregation that welcomes and respects us, that is why there are a few religious ministers who are breaking ranks with homophobic attitude within the church, we must note that not all churches or Christian leaders are homophobic and LGBT people must find a religious community they can call home. Sadly there are LGBT people in every church, living in fear daily, if it is known that they are gay or lesbian, as the unjust messages of the church will determine whether they are able to come out safely and fulfil their God given heritage. On the other hand homophobic messages and ranking may cause LGBT people to suffer undue advantage and depression, but LGBT people are as religious as heterosexual people. Q: What ails the church in its treatment of LGBT persons? Can this be rectified? Misinterpretation of the scriptures promotes hatred and this is the sickness of the church, we are one body in Christ and the sooner we recognize this as a body of Christ, then we would be able to welcome all persons, after all Jesus said I have not come to judge the world but to save it. The church should be a sanctuary, a refuge where all persons suffering can run to, sadly many churches close their doors on and keep LGBT people out, there are no justification for violence against LGBT people. Q: Whereas we know the Church has been condemning and unaccommodating, how has your ministry been able to once again restore confidence in LGBT persons? "You cannot carry out House Of Rainbow Fellowship is not extra ordinary in anyway, we are simply responding to the need for inclusion, we teach about the kingdom of God, we condemn immorality, we teach about salvation and fundamental change redemption, as a mission that reaches out to LGBT people, we are also mindful of the rhetoric of our critwithout a certain ics, what is largely important is that LGBT people are able to reconcile with God as they are, our messages are simple. 1 Peter 3:8-9, “Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a amount of madness. In tender heart, and a humble mind. 9Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, rethis case, it comes pay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.” from nonconformity, The message we share with people, because we know that LGBT people, their friends and families suffer a great deal, it is also important that LGBT people of faith hear the message of Jesus in Matthew 5:43- the courage to turn 48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your back on the old your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. formulas, the courage He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighte46 ous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing to invent the future." that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans Thomas Sankara do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Q: What message do you have for the religious leadership here in Kenya with regards to being open and accepting? My message for religious leaders in Kenya and elsewhere is that we need to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying, LGBT people are also children of God, created in the beauty of God’s image, to hurt one is to hurt God, just like we cannot do anything about the colour of our skins and or physically disabilities we cannot do anything about our sexual orientation, the only message is inclusion, the bible tells us in Micah 6:8 “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” it is the mission of the church to stand up for justice not perpetrate hatred, in our history it took the church over 500 years to end slavery, homophobia like slavery is unjust, I hope we shall not wait 500 years before the awakening of the church to respond to the Great commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. G.A.Y. for us at House Of Rainbow Fellowship means, God Adores You, God Accept You, God Approves You, God Admire You, God Accentuate You. It will be refreshing if the religious leader in Africa can truly discern the heart of God than to selfishly and callously lean to their prejudice on human sexuality.—IDENTITY (Inset; Rev., Jide on safari) Page 18 Identity HIV And Transgender Women We all know what HIV stands for so I’m not even going there… to the definitions. And we also all know that HIV leads to AIDS. But what may not know is the high prevalence of HIV infections in transgender/transsexual women. In my work, I have been able to interact with one of the most marginalized and forgotten/unknown groups of people in Kenya - The transgender community. Most people only know of “MSM”. MSM stands for “Men who have Sex with Men”. Sometimes it is put as “MSM and Trans”, here to console the plight and noise of transgender women. But most of the times it’s just MSM. Now to make the argument make sense, consider this: The MSM claim The MSM fighters go on by saying that “They are men… as in… they have anal sex right? So they ARE men. Right? They (some) have a penis right? So they ARE men!” ← is this right? The Trans claim What does it mean to be transgender? It means you were born/assigned the wrong gender at birth. Thus, if you identify as a man, you should be treated as one. If you identify as a woman, you should be treated as one. Calling transgender women “MSM” is a direct spat in the face. It’s an insult to them. Fine, you find some people saying that ‘MSM is a behavioral term’ but really, is it? When you say its “Men….” even before you continue you’re already calling trans women what they are not; men! True or false? The transgender community, because of the above issues, is facing a plethora of HIV issues. Recent studies suggest HIV prevalence rates of up to 42% among transgender people in India. A multi-centric study from the same year in Argentina puts the transgender prevalence rate at 35%. In essence, what is happening is that the women either don’t go to HIV matters because of stigma, or feel insulted when asked to go to MSM HIV meetings/initiatives. This is the cause of the very high rates. I feel that it is mostly stigma. Why? Because of their situation, most feel embarrassed or uneasy to go for check ups to regular hospitals where when they are asked about things like if they have infections in their vaginas they cant answer (here I am referring to pre-op transgender individuals) or when they go to clinics specifically for MSMs, they feel out of place since ‘technically’ its for men. I have no idea what the initiatives here are for transgender women but I do know that there is a lot of work going around for MSMs. It is very unfortunate that the people driving these initiative ‘forget’ that there indeed exists a transgender community and even so female transgender sex workers who are at an even greater risk of contracting HIV. It also disturbs me to know that, with all the progress that Kenya has made in combating HIV prevalence and spread among MSMs, the transgender and intersex community still continues to be ignored. Even more mind boggling is that when they source for funds, they mention that “their MSM initiative also caters for transgender identified individuals”. Through my consultations, I have come to learn that there is more to it than meets the eye. Basically, they do not want anything to do with MSM initiative because to them, it is already an insult and thus not viewed as being helpful to them. All in all, I sincerely hope that with time the transgender community gets what it deserves. They should rise up and claim their stake. Transgender individuals have more issues to deal with than most people think. Its not just an MSM issue.—BARBRA WANGARE Page 19 Identity Ask Mbaru—Gay, Lesbian And Law Questions Answered Q: My partner of three years has been abusing me physically and insulting me some times. Last time he beat and assaulted me to the point I had to go to the hospital. I was not able to tell the doctor the truth. Is there any help? James, Nairobi. Dear James, you must first recognize that this is a crime taking place against you and nobody has the right to assault or abuse you, your partner, parent, relative or a police officer. A physical abuse not only injures your body but also creates psychological and emotional turmoil and must be stopped. Under the law, any person who commits an assault occasioning actual bodily harm is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for five years. This crime must however be reported to the police immediately or within 6 months of the offence being committed. Noting that your partner has been assaulting you for a long period of time without telling the doctor the cause/es of your injuries, it is important to corporate with the police and report the actual details of the crime, the fact that this is your partner notwithstanding. Why is it important to take this action? If an offence is not reported an acted upon, it may result in more grievous harm and end up in death. Death does not choose if the perpetrator is your partner or any other criminal. You must take the first step to prevent possible grievous harm and or death. Also seek help as the psychological trauma this has caused you may have long lasting effects to your relationship, which may end due to pressing charges against your partner or may affect your future relationship where you become paranoid or even violent as well. Seek psychosocial support from a professional as the criminal case is ongoing. Also seek therapy as the case will be ongoing, this may rekindle memories of the pain that you have gone through, crimes committed against you by a loved one may cause trauma and giving evidence in court against a person you have intimately related with is disturbing as this will result in incarceration or a fine. Note: It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens from wrongs committed against them. To do so the state has developed criminal law as that branch of the law that deals with wrongs against individuals which the state has outlawed and which are punishable by the state. Criminal law therefore comes to the aid of individuals who have been wronged by others. It is the state’s duty to prosecute and ensure that those who commit crimes are charged (or accused) in court and punished if found guilty. A crime, also known as an offence, is an unlawful act or omission which is against the law of the state. It is an offence which even if targeted at an individual is an offence against the state as it is against the state’s laws. Generally crimes are punishable by fine or imprisonment. Q: Can someone be arrested if they are known to be gay or when one says he is? I am afraid of the police knowing since they may come after me. George, Bungoma. ‘Under the Kenyan law there is no offence against sexual orientation and or gender identity. You can shout from the roof tops and mountains about being gay’ Monica Mbaru Dear George, under the Kenyan law there is no offence against sexual orientation and or gender identity. Your identity is inalienable and is protected under the constitution which has an emphatic preamble protecting the well-being of the individual. You can shout from the roof tops and mountains about your sexual orientation [being gay] or identity yourself as such, there is not offence committed. However, due to ignorance of the law, by even law enforcement agent like the police, they have been unable to separate a persons’ identity from a criminal as defined by the law. Unless you are caught committing an offence defined by the law as ‘sodomy’ or ‘creating a breach of peace’ or ‘causing disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace’ then under the law you cannot be arrested. Also, many police officers and some members of the public, seeking to be ‘moralists’ may have a problem with your identifying as gay and cause harm to you or cause the police to arrest you. However, upon arrest you must ask to be told what offence you have committed as this is now your right to know before you are kept in custody. Be also aware that once the police or some members of the public are aware of your orientation, they are likely to blackmail you and or extort money from you threatening to arrest you or cause you to be arrested. However if you are already aware of your rights, you will assert t them to prevent this criminal behavior being committed against you. Note: Police officers are authorized to arrest a person who: § Commits a serious offence in their presence; § Obstructs them during their work; § Tries to escape from custody; Page 20 Identity § They suspect of having committed a serious offence; § They suspect of having committed a serious offence; § They suspect has run way from the armed forces; § They suspect has stolen property; and § Has a warrant of arrest issued against him or her Despite these conditions you can be released on bond or bail, on reasonable conditions, pending a charge or trial, unless there are compelling reasons not to be released. Q: I have been harassed by some certain youths in our neighborhoods who have called me names like 'lesbian' 'shoga' and many others. My girlfriend has also been insulted and hissed at when she passes them. This has been going on for long. Can we report them to the chief? DO we have a case? What about repercussions? Janet, Langata Dear Janet, these are criminal elements building tension against you and your partner. This must be stopped with a report to the police and asserting yourself that you are an equal member of this neighborhood an has the right to live there and anywhere you wish in the country. Unless this is immediately stopped, the ‘calls’, ‘hisses’ and the like will continue and eventually lead to physical attacks against you and or your girlfriend or both of you. There is no crime for being ‘lesbian’ or for being ‘shoga’ or even for being ‘heterosexual’. Worried about repercussions? Yes, unless you report to the police to stop this menace, there will be negative repercussions against you. Once you report there will be repercussions against these criminals. Any person who in a public place or at a public gathering uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both. You need to note carefully what words are being used against and your girlfriend as these will form the basis of your report to the police. You also need to identify the specific individuals who are uttering these words as identification will be important during the hearing. The repercussions for this is that people in your neighbourhood will learn to respect other peoples’ rights, leave you in peace. "If we know, then we must fight for your life as Note: During the trial, you will be the complainant, helping the police sustain a case against the accused and therefore a statement from you will be recorded detailing how the identified individuals have been though it were our own— using abusing/offensive/provocative words against you and your girlfriend which has caused your an- which it is—and render guish. If the offences continue, you can also institute a civil case seeking a permanent injunction against impassable with our these people to never come near you, utter offensive words or do anything else that may injure you or bodies the corridor to the your character. Any person who uses obscene, abusive or insulting language, in such a manner as is likely to cause a gas chamber. For, if they breach of the peace; or brawls or in any other manner creates a disturbance in such a manner as is likely to take you in the morning, cause a breach of the peace, is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for six months. Also anyone they will be coming for us who with intent to intimidate or annoy any person, threatens to break or injure a dwelling-house is guilty that night". Open letter of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for three years, or, if the offence is committed in the night, to from James Baldwin to imprisonment for four years. Angela Davis. Q: Me and my two other gay friends were arrested by police the other night when we were leaving a party. We were all high from drinking and one of my friends was acting very feminine. Is there a law against walking at night that we do not know of? Is it illegal to be out that late? They took us to the police station and wrote in the OB that we were drunk and disorderly and that we were loitering. We parted with 3,000 in order to be released. Can we report this corruption and bribing to KACC? Peter, Mombasa Dear Peter, two illegalities here, wrongful arrest and also bribery. As much as you were wronged by the police for arresting you without justification, you should desist from bribing them. Even though KACC may be invited to investigate, you need to play your part by not bribing the police and le the law takes its own course. It is not an offence to act feminine or to be late out into the night. However Section 182 of the Penal Code is commonly used on persons out late in the night who appear to have ‘no specific purpose’ as this section give wide powers to the police and in most cases the city council by-laws allow their security agents to arrest such persons. To avoid these amorphous sections and powers of these officers being applied against you, avoid being alone and in secluded places as in such circumstances evidence of third parties will be important to explain as to why you were out late. Continued on Page 22 Page 21 Identity Also some of these offences have sweeping penalties as the intention of their making was to remove ‘unwanted persons’ from the city streets and to ensure ‘vagabonds, and ‘vagrants’ do not make the city streets their places of abode. But alas! The same laws have been repeatedly used against individual who can prove that they were just having fun and out late. Q: My daughter was born with a vagina and a under-developed penis. She is really suffering as she is mocked by other children. She also has a wetting problem that is a cause of embarrassment. We are trying to seek a solution. One doctor recommended we remove the penis through surgery. We have registered her as a female. Is this possible? What is the cost? Mr and Mrs Kimani, Nakuru. Dear Mr. & Mrs. Kimani – your case will require a multiple responses that require public awareness, more medical information as well as understanding the right of your child as the legal custodian. Whatever choices you make, the applicable principle here is to the best interests of your child. Your daughter is normal and has to be allowed to enjoy life as a child. Avoid creating any tension around her as a ‘special child’ or a child that needs ‘special care’ unless she is unwell and or sick. To help the community in school, i would recommend you talk to the management and educate them about being sensitive to children with different conditions; your child condition as well as this could be with other children with other conditions like disability, HIV, cancer, sickle cells, etc. Once the school community is made aware of the need to be sensitive to the various conditions, then they stop focusing on your child’s condition and are open to discussions. This will ease the embarrassment on your child and the condition of wetting as this in caused by anxiety or the sheer need to avoid going to the ‘wrong loo’ I would urge that you wait for your child to grow and make the decision as to whether to remove the penile shaft or the vagina instead of making this decision and later regret that the ‘wrong gender’ was assigned to the child. The current thinking of using a human rights approach to intersex persons is to create self-awareness, psychosocial support to avoid people around the child stigmatising the person but also letting the child make their own choices. You will be amazed how deeply feeling your child may already be feeling as to who they really are! Learn together with your child to listen to that inner voice. I would also ask that you consult with other intersex persons, form a support group and explore the amazing.—MONICA MBARU Self Determination Of The Intersex Child The book ‘Sexual orientation, Gender Identity and Justice: A comparative Law Casebook’ is really a fascinating read. And it is such a learning experience. ian and testicular tissue. Chromosomal patterns that are XXY or XO instead of XX or XY are also intersex conditions. Irrespective of how the intersex condition is viewed, it is often accompanied by discrimination and stigma from the larger population. Today I read the section on Intersex conditions. As we may or may not know, “intersex” refers to a range of anatomical conditions that do not fall within standard male and female categories. They may be the result of variations in an individual’s chromosomes, hormones, gonads, or genitalia. And while intersex is often not considered by many people as a medical condition but rather a label, by contrast the Intersex initiative website states that “..majority of people born with intersex conditions do not view “intersex” as part of their identity (or)… do not even describe their condition as “intersex”, as they feel that they simply have a medical condition…. and not intersex status..”(ICJ, 2011). That having been said one of the problems facing intersex children is genital normalizing by the medical establishment with the support of the parents. Many medical professionals seek to ensure, through surgery, that all babies or children fit neatly into the standard categories of male and female based on clearly identifiable genitalia 2011). For example, having one ovary and one testis, or gonads that contain both ovarPage 22 However psychologists will confirm that gender identity starts forming pretty early and by the age of five intersex children usually has a clear idea of who they are (presumably irrespective of their ambiguous genitalia). Therefore after the age of five, the urgency to perform surgery on the intersex child diminishes and the right of the child to personal development supersedes the right of the parent to make decisions for that child on the area of gender and sexual identity. Identity Now even though there is lack of consensus in some countries on the most appropriate approach for intersex conditions, the increasing school of thought, supported by court decisions around the world, is to let the intersex child be as he/she is until the age of majority – the age at which the individual, now an adult, can make informed decisions for him or herself. Many cases have shown how detrimental it is for parents and doctors to choose to perform surgery on the child before it is able to make this important decision for itself. A good example is the story of David Reimer who as an infant was a boy but tragically lost his penis during a circumcision gone wrong. His parents, (on the advice of a psychologist named John Maney*) then had his genitals surgically altered to fit the female gender and he was raised as a girl, named Joan. Later in life he rejected his female assignment and lived as a man in adulthood, even getting married to a woman and raising three step children. He underwent female-to -male sex reassignment surgery but eventually committed suicide in 2004. Another tragic case is the Christiane Völling story. Völling was raised as a male but was found to have a uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries but no testis during a routine appendectomy. At the age of eighteen doctors had all her intraabdominal female sexual Page 23 organs removed without her consent. No male organs were found. Rather than ‘corrective surgery’ to adapt and maintain one of two present sexes, the surgery caused a complete removal of organs from the only present and organic sex (ICJ, 2011). A number of courts have thus ruled that sex reassignment surgery may only be offered to intersex children with his informed consent. By ‘informed’ here we mean that the child is made completely aware of ‘the invasiveness of the medical procedure, the patient’s level of understanding, the degree of medical qualification in relation to the risk, and the ability of the patient to accept the risk with an objective and critical selfawareness’ (ICJ, 2011) Pending this, the child will have to wait until the age of majority to make this important decision. Therefore if an intersex child can be allowed to live as intersex until age of majority or self-determination, it follows that a homosexual or bisexual child should also be allowed to live as a homosexual or bisexual person into adulthood. Often a child will begin to feel attracted to others between the age of eight and fifteen or thereabout. Since homosexuality is not considered by the World Health Organization as a mental disorder, but rather as a natural part of human sexuality any attempts to change a child will only have a traumatic effect on his/her psy- chological and emotional well-being. It is also relatively difficult, if not impossible, to change a person’s sexual orientation. Allowing the child to be as he/she is until early adulthood makes provision for the individual to explore his/her freedoms as stipulated in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Article 12 assures the child the right to express his or her own views. The child also has the right to free development of personality. Upon reaching the age of maturity he/she can decide what to live as (heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual). This makes sense, since growing children need to live and experience their sex and gender assignment, as well as sexual orientation to be able to decide what feels best for them. No-one else can do that for them, nor be allowed to try to impose their preferred orientation ‘ideals’ on them. If then the young adult finds that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is what comes naturally to them they should be allowed to live so freely. The implication then is that the right to self-determination must continue throughout adulthood. The state cannot just withdraw his/her right to privacy, dignity and protection because of what others in the population feel about it, which often are irrational feelings or perceptions- -shrouded in a cloak called morality. It is after-all a deeply personal journey which is no-one else’s business other than of that particular individual.—AKINYI OCHOLLA References: ICJ, 2011: Sexual orientation, Gender Identity and Justice: A comparative Law Casebook. Pp. 137-152. Identity A Gift Called Closure This Christmas I have a high affinity to men in uniform and weapons (don’t get any ideas) but I don’t date them. No big reason just the ‘uncertainties’ of their profession, its workings and their ever present three tenets summed up as 3W’s: Wine (they swallow lots of liquor); War (Most bar brawls are always caused by these fine men) and Women also read as we-men if you are on my side of the hedge (They have multiple ‘liaison’ partners). I’m also a dedicated enthusiast of those who abhor sports cars not because I know anything about them but just for the conventional reason they are not comfy when making out in them! Imagine my thrill when I was invited for this dinner event last Saturday evening! I think it was something to the effect that it was meant to empower youths and also support children’s home. The organizers of this thing were definitely refined in view of the venue and also the status of the guests I ran into at the function. I pause here and wonder. It’s either I date the wrong men, I’m still a lost cause when it comes to classy places or to the extreme I am cheap, Ouch! – Thanks guys, you are definitely princes among the men folk! ‘We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old and that's the criterion by which I'll be selecting my judges.’ Barack Obama Enough with the diva moment! At some point during the occasion my mind wandered a bit and I started thinking about the men in my inane life! There’s the one I almost made out with in his (sports) car outside The Mall in Westlands on a first date; then there’s the one who literally showed up on my doorstep on a Tuesday morning to floss his new ride (sports). I recollect him telling me on my way to work that he intended to give it to his bf since he wanted something more exhilarating (Men are just so obvious!); there’s also the one from the April 2011 weekend I first met at the Ngong Race Course. He categorically told me he had issues with premature ejaculation when it came to women. Of course premature ejaculation isn't a laughing matter for anyone, except for your friends when you tell them about it on the phone the next morning, I think my first and last friendship with benefits ended because the main event was invariably over before he got his socks off; then David* this half-caste guy I’ve always had a crush on (still do) because he plays golf proficiently and promised me pro bono lessons! I remember I literally showed up for the first time at a Mosque in my over 20 years just to meet him -Gay men! God Bless them!; I can’t forget about this very wedded middle aged corporate executive who once dropped me home at very ‘ungodly’ hours of a Sunday morning and then how do u expect me to leave Soldier boy, he is a well bred, awesomely built serviceman with an unsullied English accent that proves he never went to a school named after any human being and works with our disciplined forces. Despite his raunchy personality (which I find appealing) he always calls me beautiful and as much as he hasn’t been the relationship type, he’s really a piece of work. I mean, how do you think I learnt how to play the roulette in a casino or better still discern the sinful existence of most high end Nairobi watering holes! Once, late at night, when he was a bit tipsy, he confided to me that life rushed at him out of a fog, constantly taking him by surprise. That explained to me the multiple sex partners but he assured me that I wasn’t in his catalogue of the pretty boys he deflowers. Oh and when he gets to town for a weekend! I have always shoved all my prior engagements aside ready to hear the ‘men in uniform and artillery’ stories, receive gifts in kind that are usually advanced to me when he’s from mission and also get introduced to his latest conquests. He’s actually the authority behind: Save a boyfriend for a rainy day. And another, in case it doesn't rain....friends, the list is interminable! Page 24 Identity You see in this life we meet, greet, street and forget our encounters as soon as we created them! Welcome to what I technically refer to as ‘man-meets’! (It will be a precedent to see a real date in the G world). Once a pretty boy passes a certain point in intelligence, sex is for ‘your’ own fulfilment; you never discuss your cash, professional or educational milieu with a gay man you just met; relationships, boyfriends and other vain stuff like love are for the feeble or faint hearted; Your cell phone is simply for giving directions and taking instructions, then there’s the aspect of coming back home from your clandestine activities at 10 in the morning but let’s save this story for another day. While dinner was almost being served I saw some few familiar faces I knew so I embarked on going to say hello. In the course I met Tom* (remember the premature ejaculation man from the April 2011 Racecourse weekend?) White shirt, coffee leather jacket, brown cords and high-ankle suede shoes oozing a fine scent of a man who distinctly portrays class and is perfectly modern at it! I keep a mental inventory of all my men even the one night stand ones! ‘Cole, Wow! You’re also here? You just stopped talking!’ said a noticeably impressed Tom* ‘Yeah, it’s been ages, I think 3 months? ‘I responded ‘Yeah thereabout, please’, He responded motioning me to some empty seat adjacent to his fine self! After I explained I was with some friends he requested to join us because he was unaccompanied and was only using this as a guise (before he proceeded to a watering hole) to his colleague who had also got him a ticket and was also all over the place as one of the organizers. My friends were very receptive because of his charm and mannerisms that symbolized good breeding.—COLE MUTAHI To be continued... Sexuality And Religion—Need For A Paradigm Shift ‘I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.’ Audre Lorde At the way things are happening, the subject of human sexuality is very controversial. It is no wonder that sexuality has many colors depending on the community and the context. Thus, as someone said it changes colors like a chameleon. In so many ways, homosexuality is being seen as a threat to individuals, families and religious communities. Today the debate on homosexuality is boiling in every religious circle, countries and taking a leap in the diplomatic circles by Britain and US governments insisting on Aid to developing countries being tied to respect for the human rights of gay persons. It has been reported in the media that this has sparked outrage in Kenya. As usual religious leaders have vowed to resist attempts to impose homosexuality on Kenyans-neocolonialism. It has been reported in the media that ambassadors walked out of the room when Mrs. Hillary Clinton spoke recently in Switzerland for countries to respect gay rights as human rights. I am guessing my ambassador also walked out. These ambassadors represent what their respective countries stand for as regards homophobia, trans-phobia and heteronormativity. The fiercest battle seems to be diverse worldviews based on the limited orientation of Abrahamic faiths-Christianity, Judaism and Islam by the concerned constituents. Is religion still the opium of the society? Continued on Page 26 Page 25 Identity I think our reading of the holy books is mirrored to our own cultural context. We need to recognize that there is diversity when it comes to issues of human sexuality. It is not by choice but natural; I plead with everyone to respect this natural law that forms part of our science of existence and creation. Unfortunately homophobia, internalized homophobia and transphobia based on ignorance evidently runs deep in our respective communities. History has shown that if you want to discriminate, then you create a story or ritual. Religious institutions, throughout history have forced their own agenda on the LGBTI people without any thought for the suffering and persecution they have caused. Discrimination breaks the heart of God and the victims. I have learned from reliable and credible scientific research works that homosexuality has been around human society since the earliest times. Homosexuality has been in existence in various African cultures with different kind of names. Its suppression and persecution of gay persons did not mean it was non-existence. This message should go to developing African countries that have laws that criminalize homosexuality. This message should also go to religious institutions that close doors on LGBTI persons when they seek both spiritual and social development from the clergy. Let us all build bridges and create safe spaces for LGBTI persons in our environments. Acceptability, love and affirmation of LGBTI persons in our context is a huge challenge that needs concerted dialogue from all stakeholders. My experience informs me that this is going to take a long time in most parts of Africa. It is a wonder that sometimes you meet persons who are informed on issues of sexuality but are living in the sin of silence. ‘Some people think I At this point in time, a lot of water has gone under the bridge and we should not be like the Jews who am gay, which I think used the culture of the Holiness Code to discriminate against their neighbors referred to as Gentiles. Inis awesome.’ deed, this made them to exclude other people who were non-Jewish from the love of God. Jesus came Daniel Radcliffe, head to head with these kinds of teachings and called for a paradigm shift since God is love. Time and again, Jesus’ teaching was that we include everyone. The Good News he taught and preached was not about exclusion. He observed that some members of the society were being discriminated, isolated and rejected spiritually and physically. These were the poor, widows, lepers, LGBTI and children among others. He embraced and loved these groups of people. Jesus had a bias for the poor, the unloved, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. famed ‘Harry Potter’ actor It is my prayer that Christians who are followers of Christ during this eve of Christmas follow this model of ministry in Africa and globally. This will solve the problem of intolerance, bigotry and hatred since violence against LGBTI has no theological, cultural and diplomatic basis. I am strongly persuaded that LGBTI persons need to be given social justice and freedom to live their lives with dignity just like heterosexuals. People should not use God to hide from the challenges of our own time- ignorance, superstition and fear. Let religious institutions start dialogue on sexuality and gender identity from an informed platform. There is serious need to revisit the ethos of sexuality out of which relevant theology can be reconstructed. Today, there is need for courage on reconstituting a liberating theology of human sexuality and gender identity in Africa. There is need for a paradigm shift on human sexuality and religion.—JOHN MAKOKHA Page 26 Identity My Fling With A University Professor I was involved in an intimate relationship with a don at a local university within Nairobi. As usual, I was cruising through one of the most popular gay social sites – GayDar - one evening. It was a daily routine that I had to check through my account to see whether I had any message (s) either for a hook up or basically to meet a new friend. At least not a single day passed without an inbox and if there was none, I would send out people messages telling them am interested in knowing who they were. Through that site I met several guys whom I dated and we still do communicate though I got rid of the account. I will be telling you soon of a quite an interesting story of one this friends. On this particular day, I received a very simple message from this ‘stranger’. He had such a unique name and his profile was just the perfect one as per my requirements for friends. So, I responded and after several exchanges of notes, we ended up giving each other our mobile phone numbers. Soon after, our own personal email addresses followed. Everyday there was a mail for me from him and that’s how a friendship that has lasted 5 years now began. Through our daily interaction, I got to know who he was, what his occupation was and interests were. There was a mutual connectivity. We really liked each other though we had never met. At the onset of our friendship; I opened up to him and explained about my HIV status. This was out of fear of rejection. I did not to want to put him in jeopardy. I told him all about my background, my work, my love life, my dreams, my expectations as well as my desires. He was and is still a charming guy; a good listener and a go getter. He radiates excellence through his career and in the upbringing of his children. He also is a very ambitious guy. I simply love him as a friend .As we continued on in getting to know each other; we exchanged photos via the local post office mail box, yes! Thank God ‘Everyone has people for technology today it takes hours or even minutes to upload photos and expel the anxiety that comes in their lives that are from desiring to know the face of the person you are interacting wit! gay, lesbian or The wait was long for the mail to come through and just as I had hoped he would be like, that was the transgender or case. It felt nice putting a face to this wonderful man whom I had come to know and cherish. I was ecbisexual. They may not static. want to admit it, but I So, one Saturday afternoon after work, I boarded a vehicle to take me to the city since I was leaving away guarantee they know from Nairobi. I was finally going to meet the man of my dreams! The vehicle was not moving as fast as I somebody.’ wanted it to (it must have been the anxiety at meeting him) but eventually I did get to my destination. We Billie Jean King were in constant communication all through the journey via SMS. As soon as I alighted, he was there waiting for me. It was like as if we had known each other for so long .I felt loved, appreciated and couldn´t wait for what was to come later. He drove through the campus to his office within the compound where he was marking exams for the end of the semester. I settled in and he offered a glass of juice as he continued with his work; it was clear this was important to him as he brushed his red marker on the exam papers. As I had expected, the office was well arranged with voluminous books of different topics. I picked one of them to keep myself busy and we kept on chatting as I checked the book. Time flew fast and darkness was approaching. At around 8 o´clock, he gasped out he was exhausted. It was time to stop working and go home, he said. But before we went, he leaned over to where I was seated and in a split of a minute we were deeply engrossed in passionate kissing and caressing. He was so tender and loving. This made me desire him the more and wanted to go all the way. At least him being aware of my condition he was prepared with condoms. There in his office we had sex. The sexual energies overwhelmed us as we rolled on the desk and floor. Continued on Page 28 Page 27 Identity No sooner than we were done, it was time to leave for his house. I was skeptical about the whole idea of going to his home where his children and wife were but I did not have a choice or know what to do. I overheard him telling the wife that he had a guest so she should prepare a room for me. When we got to the house, he introduced me as a former student at the campus he taught despite the fact that I have never seen the doors of a campus for learning purposes though I still dream of doing a degree course one day. To date, that is the lie that the wife believes. As to the young children, I am referred to as ‘Uncle Nelson’ in a typical Kenyan way of introducing ‘friends’ Since I am good with children, we became very good buddies. After reading a story to the children and having dinner, it was time to sleep. I was shown where I would retire for the night. The following morning we work up early and prepared to leave for church. Once the service had ended, I left for my town glowing with contentment and happiness that at last my search was over and that I had found ‘Mr. Right’. How foolish and naïve I was! However, the relationship did not last that long because of his church, career and family commitments. This was also due to the fact that I was not within his reach since I lived and worked far away. Occasionally, we meet for some moments of ‘fun’. At some point though in the relationship, I felt used and wrote him a very harsh email. I guess its because I was struggling to make ends meet. Here I was trying all the best to please him and satisfy him sexually but him giving me bus fare was an issue. All in all it was one kind of a relationship that lasted for 3 years which am not likely to forget in a long time to come. I have since then moved on not to another relationship because am yet to find a person who accepts me for who I am and with my present health condition.—NELSON MBUGUA ‘It was wrongly assumed that I wished to become some sort of leader among gay activists, whereas in reality I was happier to be a foot soldier.’ Ian McKellen GLIDE, a Kenya-made water based lubricant is available for sale and distribution. Its 100% condom safe, non sticky and nontoxic. For more information, orders and costing, please email via: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +254721429939 Gay Kenya Elects Holds AGM; Elects New Board Gay Kenya Trust (GKT), a member of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) held its second Annual General Meeting on December 17th. Among the agenda was the election of a new Board with the previous Board having Page 28 served for a record three years. The new Board is comprised of Elphas Njeru as Chair, Mona Kareithi as Secretary, Anthony Oluoch as Treasurer and Robert Josephine and Brizan Were as members. Also agreed at the AGM was the consolidated financial reports as well as strategic plan for 2012. The Director, David Kuria is set to announce his resignation from Gay Kenya soon.— IDENTITY Gay Kenya Identity Gays, Criminalization In Africa And HIV (Inset; a traditional dance at the opening of ICASA) At the recently held ICASA conference, I had an exciting time of learning, networking and appreciating the many realities and challenges faced by LGBTI people in Africa. Here, I will highlight one that that a permanent impact in my life, and gave me a reason to proceed with the course. It was thoughts that I have been having particularly from a session on Key populations on HIV/AIDS: LGBTI facilitated by a doctoral research fellow, Zoe Duby of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. More than through any other forum, it was evident from the representation, presentation and conversation held at ICASA that LGBTI refers to sexualities, sexual identities, sexual orientations, sexual lifestyles – NOT sexual behaviour. Only the terms MSM (men who have sex with men) and WSW (women who have sex with women) refer to sexual behaviour. LGBTI, MSM and WSW are all at increased HIV risk due to many factors. LGBTI only recently recognised in context of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Previously, homosexuality in Africa was always blamed on Western European influence, colonialism and technology. However, evidence shows same-sex practices have always been present in African countries, and are often part of local cultures and traditions. According to studies, there are numerous examples of ‘traditional’ same sex practices in Africa. Young-old partnerships, taking on different gender roles, cross dressing, initiation rituals (Wilson, 1951); situational same sex behaviours (for example prisoners, truck drivers, miners, armed forces, boarding schools etc), socially sanctioned “Where there is tension same-sex sexual experimentation before marriage, in adolescence (Murray & Roscoe, 2001) and same sex between cultural attitudes behaviour plays a crucial role in certain rituals and traditional practices (Weiss, and universal human Quigley & Hayes, 2000). rights, universal human rights must carry the From sessions held at ICASA, it was evident that Africa is the continent with the day… Personal harshest laws when it comes to homosexuality and other sexual minorities, partly rooted in colonial-era laws and political situations, religious autonomy, strong negadisapproval, even tive belief in cultural and family values, and a strong patriarchy. 38 countries in Afsociety's disapproval, is rica have laws criminalizing homosexuality, 4 of which may impose death penalty no excuse to arrest, (parts of Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Mauritania). detain, imprison, harass More than 50% of African governments have taken action and steps to formally criminalise same sex un- or torture anyone - ever.” Ban Ki Moon ion. It is so sad that when in December 2008, the United Nations Assembly in New York issued a declaration to decriminalize homosexuality, only 6 African countries signed (Ottoson, 2010). So what are the societal factors increasing HIV vulnerability of LGBTIs? According to many countries’ laws and politics, male same-sex behaviour, is illegal. As a matter of fact, protective legislation for LGBTI only exists in South Africa. Recent legal reforms in some African countries have aimed to strengthen anti-homosexual legislation, rather than make laws more inclusive. Given such restrictive legal and political environment, African LGBTIs are increasingly reporting harassment from state authorities, including police and public officials, in relation to their sexual orientation, and to some extent also their gender identities. In Malawi for instance, there’s been a series of arrests for homosexuality and a new law criminalising lesbians. In Zimbabwe, gay people face persecution under the Sexual Offences Act, while in Uganda, there was a media palaver of “name and shame” top 100 gay persons and most recently, the very contentious debate of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In South Africa, there’s “corrective rape” and hate killings of young lesbian women. Continued on Page 30 Page 29 Identity (Inset) A participant at ICASA Such state sponsored homo-prejudice compounds existing situation of abuse, harassment, humiliation, extortion, arbitrary arrests, judicial violence, imprisonment, torture, hate crimes and honour killing on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity all over Africa. Public opinion also really increases vulnerability to HIV by LGBTIs. Irrespective of restrictive or enabling laws and political systems, public opinion toward homosexuality in African countries extremely hostile. African public opinion ranks most homophobic in the world in international opinions surveys. On average, 85–99% of African people consider that homosexuality should not be accepted by society (Ottosson, 2009). Some roots of hostile public opinion include: opinion that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ and the misconception that homosexuality was introduced to Africa by foreigners, tendency of organised religion to brand homosexuality as immoral and sinful and family/ cultural expectations to have partnerships that bear children. LGBTI persons are fearful to disclose their sexual behaviours or samesex orientation to family members and health care staff. They feel unable to or fearful of coming forward to ask for help. This in turn prevents access to knowledge, skills and services that would help meet HIV prevention and treatment needs. The compounded consequences of homophobic stigma from society, communities, religious groups, family and friends have direct impact on an individual’s sense of personal worth. A lack of self-esteem that arises from stigma reduces a person’s motivation to protect themselves from high-risk behaviours. Pick the already serious concoction of state sponsored homophobia, hostile public opinion, covertness and ‘Hate has no place in homo-prejudice produce and add to the lack of knowledge and personal skills, the low self-esteem and the house of God. No self-efficacy belief, inaccessibility and unavailability of prevention and treatment services and the hostile one should be and stigmatising societal environment, you have a perfect recipe for making the LGBTI persons and community more vulnerable to engaging in high risk behaviour and HIV infection. excluded from our With this kind of situation, will we stand back and just watch? Will we propagate hate and fuel dogmatic love, our compassion propaganda about moral scales that cannot even be traced from whence they were gotten? or our concern… because of their sexual In the words of Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, orientation’ “Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern… because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care…. Gay, Desmond Tutu lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are… part of the human family… part of God's family… part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms…. Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear. And they are living in hiding -away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era… ” We must not allow oppression to continue. Cultural, social and political context for LGBTI in Africa increases their vulnerability to HIV. Generally, countries that have decriminalised same sex behaviour and offered legal protections to LGBTI see more LGBTI coming forward for prevention, testing and treatment. In order to address the HIV epidemic in Africa, African LGBTI, as individuals and collectively, must be acknowledged and recognised. LGBTI must be afforded legal protection and access to health services, and ensured their fundamental human rights.—MAQC ERIC GITAU Religious leaders at ICASA 2011 Page 30 Identity Sodom & Gomorrah: The REAL Story While counseling a young man this past month, a very common question arose on the subject of God's view of homosexuality. And it is true that no discussion about Christianity and homosexuality can be complete without a reference to Sodom & Gomorrah. Usually, the cities best known for God's wrath are invoked to suggest that if the world doesn't change her ways, then God owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. At the very least, Sodom is shown by some as a perfect example of what happens "when a society embraces aberration" or something of that sort. For this part, let's explore these often quoted passages in the light of Scripture. To better understand this passage, I recommend that you take a few minutes to read Genesis 19 in its entirety. Like most of the "clobber" passages in Scripture, Genesis chapter 19 is often used as a pretext to show just how bad homosexuals are. The reference has even crept into our English language to commonly define "sodomy" as a form of sex between two men. I've even heard such wild ideas that all the men of Sodom were homosexuals! If the were true, then God would not have to have done anything, since the cities would died out all by themselves within a generation or two. "And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where [are] the men which came on to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them." Genesis 19:5 There is a great horror in the story of Sodom. It might be surprising to know that Sodom wasn't the only city that was destroyed by divine order. In Judges Chapter 19, we learn of an entirely differâ€˜Such persons ent city that has an eerily familiar tale. A weary traveler comes to the town of [homosexuals] must be Gibeah and is taken in to the home of an- accepted with respect other foreigner. The locals become irritated and they demand that they be given the and sensitivity. Every visitors for sexual demands. The traveler's sign of unjust hosts are horrified by the demands and discrimination in their offer one of his concubines instead. It is at this point that the two stories differ. Instead of a blind rage, the mob agrees to the concubine. Scripture says that the woman was raped repeatedly and was dead by morning. Later, the Israelite army is gathered for one purpose: to wipe out Gibeah. regard should be avoidedâ€™ Roman Catholic Church "Well," you might say, "homosexuals of Sodom just wanted to rape the angels!" If they really were homosexuals, and Lot would have known this....why would he have offered both of his daughters? Clearly, he wanted to appease the mob's lust for....power and domination. That's right. It's basic psychology, folks. Rape isn't about sex or even lust. It's about power and control. Put simply, the people of Sodom were interested in one thing: humiliating the people who dared come uninvited. Sodom's myth, or story, is that it is an example of God's wrath. In modern times, we hear it almost always referred to when it comes time to condemn gay and lesbian people. But strangely enough, nearly every time it's brought up, it's in reference to their attitudes toward outsiders or for God's judgment in general. Not convinced? Read on.... Isaiah 3:5-9 talks about Sodom as oppressors. Isaiah 13:17-19 says they were merciless. Jeremiah 23:14 calls them adulterers. Ezekiel 16 says Jerusalem was even more wicked than Sodom to the point that they sacrificed children to pagan deities, had rampant prostitution and were idolatrous bloodbaths. Continued on Page 33 Page 31 Identity Exposé: Kenyan Gays Used As Sex Slaves In UAE Investigations by Identity Magazine have revealed the existence of a network of sex traffickers targeting gay men and MSMs in universities. According to our sources, these traffickers are targeting gay identifying men and MSMs promising them jobs in Arabic countries only for them to end up as sex slaves. Our mole tells us that the traffickers use universities as operation centers with Kenyatta University seemingly being mentioned as a core spot in recruitment. A student whose name we are told is called Boniface has been registering innocent gay youths with promises of work as air stewards and clerical jobs in the UAE. This is done to disguise the real motive of recruiting them—as sex slaves. Our sources tell us that the youth are recruited and promised jobs and are assisted in getting documents and passports to allow for them to work in UAE or Saudi Arabia. An intricate network of traffickers collude with immigration officials to assist in passage. One of the victims, Paul* told Identity Magazine that he was promised a job with Qatar airways but ended up suffering at the hands of these traffickers, ‘Most of them were sexual sadists. I was beaten, urinated on and even one time someone defecated on me. All this time I was being abused sexually and some even inserted hands and objects in my anus.’ Paul told Identity Magazine that he knows of five other men who went under the auspices of ‘work’ and he fears their fate. They were separated at the airport. Another source told Identity Magazine that due to the high level of unemployment and desperation leads many gay men to seek greener pastures. Some are even told that they will be ‘international call boys earning millions by servicing rich men’ yet this illusion remains unfulfilled. Potential youths are asked to part with either KSh 1,0005,000 processing fee and are asked to fill forms stating what kind of jobs they want. Q-initiative, a gay and lesbian university group based in Eldoret said they are not familiar with the case of Paul* and assume that the recruitment only happens in universities in Nairobi.— IDENTITY *Names changed ‘Most of them were sexual sadists. I was beaten, urinated on and even one time someone defecated on me. All this time I was being abused sexually and some even inserted hands and objects in my anus’ Paul* a victim of sex slavery Respondents Needed For Rectal Hygiene Survey IRMA (International Rectal Microbicide Advocates) and researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health are conducting a brief survey on rectal hygiene practices to help better understand the types of products Page 32 people use rectally for anal sex including lubricants and enemas or douches. transmitted infections among people who practice anal intercourse.’ According to the communiqué from Jim Pickett, ‘We are trying to gain a better understanding of rectal practices and behaviors that may affect the risk for sexually The survey is available here and in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai. http://www.keysurvey.com/ survey/382277/d7a7/ Identity And when Jesus talked about Sodom, he had a lot to say. But it wasn't what you might think it was: ‘’And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of the wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.’’ When Jesus referred to Sodom in Matthew 10:11-16 (and Luke 10:8-12), he compared contemporary cities to Sodom when they refused the disciples. Matthew 11:20-24 indicates that the people of Sodom were unrepentant even with miracles... they were stubborn. ‘Then began he to unbraid the cities wherein most of Hid mighty works were done, because they repented not: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. "But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." "But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Matthew 11:20-24 The popular doctrine is that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuals. If we take the time to explore the Scriptures, we see more and more that this just isn't true. When we hold true to the Biblical interpretation by using Scripture to interpret Scripture, ‘I have no doubt that even Jude verse 7 is not talking about God does call homosexual sex, but rather the practice homosexuals to the of humiliating outsiders by "putting priesthood, and they are them in their place." among the most So why, then was Sodom destroyed? dedicated and Quite simply, Sodom was destroyed impressive priests I have because of their rejection of outsiders met.’ and the overall wickedness of the city's Fr. Timothy Radcliffe denizens: Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw [good]. Ezekiel 16:49-50 So, if I were to take a bit of liberty and redefine the word "sodomy" in the proper context, this is what it would be: Sodomy - the act of a fat, lazy, and arrogant person or group which violently rejects, marginalizes or humiliates 'outsiders', oppresses the poor, and is consumed with lethargic religious impersonation. That cuts a little closer to home doesn't it? The reality is that Sodom was not destroyed for homosexuality at all. Instead, it was divine wrath poured out against a wicked and stiff-necked people who were the worst of the worst. So once again, we can cast aside the common yet wrong interpretation of Scripture that's used against the gay and lesbian community. Keep your attitudes and gratitude in check… these may harm you soul… but your sexuality was divinely designed.—ERIK D. WISE Page 33 Identity Red Ribbon Award 2012: Call For Nominations On this year’s World AIDS Day, the UN and civil society partners jointly announced a global call for nominations for the 2012 Red Ribbon Award. The award, which will be presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington DC in July 2012, will be given to ten organizations that have shown outstanding community leadership and action on AIDS. The selected community organizations will benefit from international visibility and an invitation to participate in the XIX International AIDS Conference. Additionally, each recipient of the award will receive a US$10,000 grant. are: Prevention of sexual transmission, Prevention among people who use drugs, Treatment, care and support, Advocacy and human rights, Stopping new HIV infections in children and keeping mothers alive; women's health. The closing date for nominations is February 29th, 2012. Red Ribbon Award 2012 The five award categories Kenyalist Website Exposes, Endangers Kenyan Gays AGAIN! For a third time, the Kenyan tabloid website, Kenyalist, has published photos of a gay Kenyan with viewers calling for the murder of the person. This is the third time Kenyalist has allowed members to post photos of effeminate men with comments being homophobic and others being extreme and some calling for the killing of the persons. The photos are usually sourced from social website links like Facebook, My Space and Twitter. The first time, an erroneous story of gays in Maseno University was published. It showed photos of men in a party, some in close embrace. The second victim, also from Thika, was published under the title ‘Batty Boy Fi Kill Dem.’ The latest victim, from Bungoma is posted under derogatorily as ‘Kariuki Banks’ The photos are still in circulation. Identity contacted one of the victim and he said that he now fears for his life. One of the pictures in Kenyalist Julius Kaggwa Honored With Human Rights Award Julius Kaggwa the director of Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development (SIPD) has been honored with the 2010 Human Rights First Award. leader in the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law and directs the Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development (SIPD). Julius Kaggwa is an advocate for the human rights of sexual minorities in Uganda and throughout Africa. He is a Kaggwa has led the fight against a draconian antihomosexuality bill in Uganda that aims to make engaging in any homosexual act a crime—in some cases punishable by death. He also works to create a more tolerant environment for sexual minorities and their supporters in Uganda. Julius Kaggwa Page 34 Identity Inaugural David Kato Award Goes To Jamaican The inaugural David Kato Vision and Voice Award has been awarded to Jamaican lawyer and LGBT activist, Maurice Tomlinson. It will be presented almost one year to the day when David was murdered, on 29 January 2012 at a ceremony in London. ‘Jamaica is regarded as one of the most homophobic in the world countries in the world, where at least 35 people have been murdered because of their sexuality since 1997,’ said a statement from the Awards Committee. In addition, ‘Despite the very real risks to his own life and safety, Maurice Tomlinson has been one of the most outspoken advocates for LGBTI rights in Jamaica, working tirelessly to promote change in laws and policies and challenging misrepresentations about LGBTI communities.’ David Kato, a Ugandan human rights activist murdered in his home in Kampala, Uganda on 26 January 2011 is the inspiration of this award. Maurice Tomlinson IRN: Call For African Board Members The International Resource Network is looking for 7 Board Members for the Africa Region to help steer the organization from February 1st 2012 The International Resource Network (IRN), based at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and funded by the Ford Foundation, aims to link up researchers, activists, artists, and teachers in areas related to diverse sexualities and genders. The goals of the IRN are to expand knowledge building, to foster comparative and collaborative projects among researchers, to advance curricular and course development, and to widen the availability of scholarly resources. PERSON TION Page 35 SPECIFICA- The suitable candidates would preferably be a researchers, activists, artists or teachers who have a demonstrable experience of working in areas related to diverse sexualities and genders in Africa. To provide governance and oversight for IRN Africa To participate in Board meetings which are held twice a year PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATION • Editing the Outlier Publication Volume 4 • Initiating the IRN Africa Sexuality Digital Library Program The individuals would bring in their unique skill sets in one or more of the following areas: • Knowledge building • Curricular and Course development • Resource Mobilization • Advocacy • Networking RESPONSIBILITIES • • To provide strategic direction to IRN Africa To offer guidance on policy and project development with IRN Africa. • TASKS TERM OF SERVICE This is a voluntary position To apply, please send a resume and cover letter indicating your unique skill set(s), to be received by 11.59 pm Thursday January 19th 2012 to: email@example.com Applicants are invited from all over Africa International Resource Network Identity Over 2500 Kenyan Sex Workers March In Protest Over 2,500 sex workers, drawn from Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa, converged at Uhuru Park to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. recent research done on sex worker rights in Kenya by KESWA coordinators in 2010. In addition, testimonies by sex workers who have experienced violence were in plenty as well as entertainment in the form of theatre, music, dance, and spoken word by sex workers. The day is celebrated annually on December 17th to highlight the violence and injustices committed to sex workers and seek an end to them. The organizers of the event, the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) said in a statement that the ‘The day aims to raise awareness of the violence and abuse suffered by sex workers, while remembering those how are victims of it.’ In addition, ‘The goal of the day is to see a global society where sex workers’ safety and basic human rights are protected.’ Participants, drawn from both male and female sex workers converged at Freedom corner, Uhuru park before marching to Charter hall in City Hall. One sex worker, identified as Amina from Mombasa told Identity Magazine that she came to show support and fight for her rights, ‘Sisi tumedhuliwa sana na polisi na clients. Tunataka tufanye kazi yetu na amani (We have been abused by police and our clients. We want to do our work –sex work—in peace).’ The participants, numbering over 2500 were issued with t-shirts and banners bearing the message ‘Mwili Wangu, Cha- guo Langu (My Body, My Business)’ Daughtie Ogutu, a member of KESWA said in an interview with Behind the Mask that sex workers are ignored and face violence, ‘Society has turned its back on sex workers, no one speaks about them or even dares to intervene when a sex worker is abused or killed.’ She added, ‘The demonstration will serve as a message to the rest of the world to speak out on behalf of sex workers. They are part of our community and they are our brothers, sisters, mothers and so on.’ Marchers went on a peaceful demonstration waving placards to Charter Hall near the City Hall. Here, members staged a vigil and held a minute of silence for slain sex workers. A recent report of serial murderers in Kisii and Thika targeting sex workers is a stark reminder of the risk that sex workers place themselves in. Among the activities in Charter Hall was also a session to share the findings of The theme for this year’s march was ‘“My body, my choice,’’ a slogan that translates as sex workers having made their own choices on how they want to use their bodies and are demanding that their choices be respected,’ said the statement from KESWA. Children from sex workers based in Korogocho slums also shared their experiences of growing up. Male sex workers and members of the gay community were also in attendance. Among them was Francis ‘Beyonce’ a male sex worker who is living with HIV and who plies bars in search of male clients. He told Identity Magazine that he has been a sex worker for four years now and has faced much. ‘I have been beaten, abused and hated. But this is my life. One client refused to pay me and called the police claiming I was blackmailing him. I was arrested and put in jail for six months. ‘ said Francis. However, the event elicited little coverage from mainstream media houses.— IDENTITY CORRESPONDENT