Globally, it is estimated that around 80 countries still criminalize adult consensual same sex activities in their Penal Code with some countries like Afghanistan and Sudan having the same as a capital offence punishable by death. In Kenya, homosexuality has been criminalized under sections 162, 163 and 165 of the Penal Code.
Criminalization of adult consensual same-sex practices done in privacy undermines the fight against HIV and AIDS, entrenches stigma and discrimination affecting service delivery to LGBTI persons, and other human rights violations including deprivation of life, and physical assault.
On the 2nd and the 3rd of April 2011, GALCK and stakeholders organized a two-day workshop on “Decriminalization of Homosexuality in Kenya.” The workshop brought together professionals, lawyers, activists, regional and international partners to discuss the possible legal and non-legal strategies towards the decriminalization of homosexuality in Kenya. Various strategies were of approach were set up.
It was from that meeting that a technical committee was formed. This committee was tasked to determine who to strategically choose for engagement. Some of the stakeholders agreed upon in the meeting included Religious sector health sectors, media, general public, Parliament, Judiciary, teachers, parents, labour organizations, community elders and the police all narrowed into Society, religion, media, legal, health and Internal Stakeholders.
The committee then realized that calling the process “Decriminalization”, as much as that is the ultimate objective, may narrow the scope of the process to a predominantly legal process. The idea was to have all the clusters working together to achieve results on every area. Not to have a situation where the law is changed and society, media or the religious sector is still increasingly negative on matters sexual orientation or gender identity. Thus The Multi-Tier Approach towards Equality and Non-Discrimination of LGBTI persons was born. This title, the committee thought, captured the spirit of the process in a holistic way including everything that would be done in the process in one statement.
MTA Progress Monitoring
On the 24th of April 2012, representatives from all of GALCK’s member groups, the Kenyan Chapter of the International Commission for Jurists, AIDS Law Project, NYAWEK, KIPE, Kenya Human Rights Commission and a number of independent consultants were invited to a meeting to monitor the progress of the MTA Process.
At this meeting, each group was granted an opportunity to highlight what activities they have undertaken in the past 5 months that had an aspect of the MTA in it.
NYAWEK reported that they are undertaking coordination and linkages with and for all the member groups in the coalition. They have also been conducting human rights advocacy programs. They work with the police on sensitizing them on issues relating to sexual diversity. They also have one on one talk program with bar owners and hotel managers while sensitizing the religious leaders more so, the Anglican and Catholic clergy on issues relating to sexual diversity.
NYAWEK in partnership with other groups in the Western region have been documenting and following up on human right violation cases. In the last three months they have documented six violation cases to be followed up. They have also been training to the member groups on entrepreneurship and resource mobilizing.
LESBOS is mobilizing and building strategic linkages with student leadership in universities in preparation for further engagement.
GKT is continuing its media advocacy program. Constantly putting articles on sexual orientation and gender identity on mainstream media while responding to various articles that shed some light on LGB issues. In partnership with MWA, they are engaging the police in conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity.
It is also worth noting that TEA opted out of the MTA Process.
There is a feeling among members from the various groups that the process is not fully understood. It is therefore imperative that a process is started to ensure that the community understands exactly what the MTA is about and what it means for their well-being.
The MTA Matrix contains a number of activities. These activities need to be assessed in order to give a clear picture of approximately how much the process would cost.
Resourcing: None of the stakeholders in this process have significant funds allocated for the realization of their contributions to the process. This would mean fundraising for it as a project. Total figures of a comprehensive budget and a work plan would be necessary.
There needs to be an MTA Coordinator fully funded position to steer this process for follow through. A basic job description entailing the outcomes would be necessary.