Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborThe penal code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” which is interpreted to prohibit consensual same-sex sexual activity and specifies a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. A separate statute specifically criminalizes sex between men and specifies a maximum penalty of 21 years’ imprisonment. Police detained persons under these laws, particularly suspected sex workers, but released them shortly afterward. There were no reported prosecutions of individuals for same-sex sexual activity during the year.
LGBT advocacy organizations, such as the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), were permitted to register and conduct activities. However, societal discrimination based on sexual orientation was widespread and resulted in loss of employment and educational opportunities. Violence against the LGBT community also occurred, particularly in rural areas and among refugees. NGO groups reported that police intervened to stop attacks but were not generally sympathetic to LGBT individuals or concerns.
During the year an LGBT group in Mombasa relocated its offices to a more secure location and advised its members to maintain a low profile when coming to the group’s office to avoid attack.
According to the 2011 Annual Report of the Observatory, in February 2010 religious leaders in Mtwapa issued antigay statements and demanded the closure of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, which conducts research and provides treatment to persons with HIV/AIDS. Crowds subsequently attacked the center and beat one of its volunteers. Other volunteers were taken into police protective custody. All were released without charge, but none of the attackers was arrested.
On two occasions in 2010, Denis Karimi Nzioka, GALCK’s public relations officer and a writer on LGBT issues, was forced to move from his home by neighbors who said they knew he was gay. Nzioka was also targeted by unknown persons on the streets who threatened him with violence or death. Unlike in previous years, no anti-LGBT publicity campaigns were conducted; however, sensational reporting often inflamed societal prejudices.
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