Africa

Performers seek your help for LGBT refugees in Kenya

Gay-friendly Ugandan anthropologist and social science researcher Stella Nyanzi describes preparations for the March 28 performance that will raise money to help beleaguered Ugandan LGBTQ asylum seekers in Kenya. Below are photos of the living conditions of some of those Ugandan refugees in Kenya. 

Kanobana Mwanje Franco (Frank Kamya) prepares for the March 28 fundraiser. (Photo courtesy of Stella Nyanzi)

Kanobana Mwanje Franco (Frank Kamya) prepares for the March 28 fundraiser. (Photo courtesy of Stella Nyanzi)

By Stella Nyanzi

Only a few hours are left to the Entertainment Fundraiser for Ugandan LGBTI asylum seekers currently lodged in different parts of Kenya. Kanobana Mwanje Franco, who is in charge of organising the fundraising event is trying out a brand new blonde wig, a silver necklace and attire for the performance.

“I will wear a silver six-inch high-heeled shoe and long black dress with a long slit up to my thigh while performing two gospel songs of Judith Babirye on stage,” Franco explained to me.

The plight of many Ugandan LGBTI people led some to flee from the country and seek for asylum on grounds of persecution for their sexual orientation, while based in neighbouring African countries. Many went into Kenya and suffered a range of challenges while based at Kakuma Refugee Settlement. Individuals also faced stigma and discrimination within the receiving/ transition center.

Arrangements were then instituted by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) along with partner organisations and individual allies to process refugee status and resettlement of Ugandan LGBTI while in safe spaces in Nairobi city and its environs. Rather than sending individuals to Kakuma, arrangements were made for a local Kenyan support organisation to provide them monthly with money (i.e. 6000 KShs) for cheap accommodation and maintenance as their resettlement into a third country was being processed.

However, the support organisation is stopping the financial donations to individual Ugandan LGBTIQ at the end of March 2015.

Bedroom at a Kenyan safe house for Ugandan LGBTQ refugees. (Photo by Frank Kamya courtesy of Stella Nyanzi) bedroom for Ugandan LGBT refugees 3 2015

Bedroom at a Kenyan safe house for Ugandan LGBTQ refugees. (Photo by Frank Kamya courtesy of Stella Nyanzi) bedroom for Ugandan LGBT refugees 3 2015

Kenyan house shared by four LGBTQ Ugandan refugees. (Photo courtesy of Stella Nyanzi)

Kenyan house shared by four LGBTQ Ugandan refugees. (Photo courtesy of Stella Nyanzi)

One of the nicer Kenyan safe houses for Ugandan LGBTQ refugees. (Photo by Frank Kamya courtesy of Stella Nyanzi)

One of the nicer Kenyan safe houses for Ugandan LGBTQ refugees. (Photo by Frank Kamya courtesy of Stella Nyanzi)

Franco was in Kenya last week to assess the most pressing needs individuals face. He visited commercial safe houses accommodating about ten to twenty individuals, witnessed some Ugandan LGBTIQ asylum seekers arriving with their luggage to a safe house, and also witnessed their living conditions.

Many sleep on shared mattresses placed on floors and make do with one meal a day.

Security challenges still abound, particularly for transgender individuals — notably effeminate males or masculine females who get arrested, blackmailed and face extortion. Language barriers, xenophobic suspicions and clash of cultural values are experienced on a daily basis.

But thankfully, some of our LGBTIQ have been resettled into liberal countries including USA, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, even Iceland and Japan.

Rather than sit down and wait for solutions from Western-based foreigners, Ugandan LGBTIQ who chose to remain in Uganda are fundraising in order to support their colleagues who will no longer have any financial support as they seek asylum to a third country of resettlement. Using their skills of drama, music, dance, fashion and art, they are staging a performance to raise funds to fill important gaps of basic needs faced by their friends, lovers and queer family members.

The event is this weekend! Entrance fees are 10,000/= UShs for ordinary seats, and 30,000/= UShs for VIP seats. Bigger amounts are also highly welcomed.

Entrance fee for the concert is 10,000 Ugandan shillings, or 30,000 shillings for VIP tickets (about US $3.50 and $10, respectively).  Tickets will be sold at the door at a location a few kilometers from a the center of Kampala.

Separate contributions and pledges are also needed.  Money can be transmitted by Airtel Money at +256753833910 or by MTN Mobile Money at +256784500759.

For more information, contact Kanobana Mwanje Franco on Facebook or leave your question in a comment below.

7 thoughts on “Performers seek your help for LGBT refugees in Kenya

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