Kenya buzzing with anti-gay worries as it awaits Obama’s visit

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Photo courtesy of
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Photo courtesy of

This has been a busy month for Watetezi, the online site from activist/journalist Denis Nzioka that promotes security for LGBTI Kenyans and reports on the human rights abuses they suffer.

These days, Kenya is abuzz with homophobic outcries, complaints and hand-wringing, sprinkled with news of anti-gay protests and an occasional anti-gay attack.

The latest bout of fearful homophobia started in late April, when Kenya’s High Court ruled that the government could no longer refuse recognition to a law-abiding organization just because it advocates human rights for LGBTI people. Since then the buzz has grown louder as Kenya awaits this month’s planned visit of President Obama, feared as an advocate of fair treatment for LGBTI people. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on July 24 and leave July 26.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta tried to calm anti-gay citizens’ fears today, saying “The issue of gay rights is a non-issue for us, it is not on the agenda. We have serious issues that we will be addressing,” as reported in The Star.

Barack Obama (Photo by Steve Jurvetson via Wiki Commons)
President Barack Obama. (Photo by Steve Jurvetson via Wiki Commons)

He also said that Deputy President William Ruto would participate in the talks with Obama. In May, Ruto told a church congregation that in Kenya “we have no room for gays and those others.”

Here are samples of what Watetezi is reporting:

July 21: ALERT: Someone in town near Mr Price/Tom Mboya statue holding banners ‘exposing’ gay organisations, their funders and locations.

July 13: 5,000 Kenyans urged to go NAKED to protest Obama’s support for homosexuality while in Kenya.  [The fringe Republican Liberty Party, with no representatives in the Kenyan parliament, is proposing this protest, based on the bizarre notion that demonstrating the biological differences between males and females would help win converts to their anti-gay position.]

Kenyan Sen. Mike Sonko condemns what is called "gayism" or "gaysm" -- the advocacy of human rights for LGBTI people.
Kenyan Sen. Mike Sonko condemns what is called “gayism” or “gaysm” — the advocacy of human rights for LGBTI people.

July 11: VIDEO: A priest and politician in Nairobi spewing anti gay hate and issuing threats against gays

July 10: Blackmailer Mark Ronny and Eric Muthoka using new numbers 0701839727, 0713464967; changed names to Kelvin Alfred.

July 9: Alleged gay youth exposed on Facebook followed by crude comments, threats

July 9: 5 Uganda LGBT refugees in Kangemi who were surrounded by a crowd, arrested by police on homosexuality charges have been released

July 9: Gay couple evicted in Kabete estate as public debate on Obama and gay rights heightens. The Star reported:

The Star used this file photo of an LGBT rights protest to illustrate its article about the eviction of two gay men.
The Star used this file photo of an LGBT rights protest to illustrate its article about the eviction of two gay men.

“Gay rights activist Dennis Nzioka has said two men were evicted from their home in Kabete, Nairobi for being homosexuals. …

“Nzioka said that prior to the eviction, rumours had spread among the couple’s neighbours that they were gay and they began to give them a cold shoulder. He said the two had reported their case to his site Watetezi, which monitors human rights violations against the LGBT community. Nzioka said one of the men has been assisted with accommodation following the incident while the other has moved back home with his family. …

“On Monday, a section of Christian organisations held anti-gay demonstrations in the CBD to protest against any attempts to legalize same sex marriages in the country. Led by Bishop Mark Kariuki and Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata, they warned Obama to steer clear of any comments on same sex marriages during his visit.

Denis Nzioka
Denis Nzioka

“Nzioka dismissed the clerics’ concerns saying that Obama will probably not endorse gay marriage, but he will ask Kenyans to respect the human rights of people despite their sexual orientation.

“He added that ‘marriage is the farthest thing’ from the minds of LGBT Kenyans stating that they are faced with more pressing issues such as day to day violence because of their orientation.

” ‘We do not want marriage. We simply want acceptance,’ he said.

“He said the media should highlight how homophobia in the country has led to violence, evictions among other forms of infringement of gay people’s human rights.”

July 9: Yesterday, someone was denied service at a popular bakery in the Nairobi CBD for allegedly ‘looking’ gay.

July 8: ALERT: Suspected BLACKMAILER PlanetRomeo profile name Johnee. Invites people to Jacaranda estate Hse No 137.

July 8: (June 4) Blackmail at Kahawa West. Victim lured via PlanetRomeo. Locked up, beaten whole day. Forced to part with KShs 8500 [US $84]

July 8: PHOTOS: Eric Muthoka + Mark Ronny. Blackmailers operating from Hamza, Uchumi Jogoo Rd. Fake Grindr profiles

July 3: ALERT over ANTI GAY march in Nairobi ‪#‎Watetezi‬

‘Anti gay caucus committee in Parliament, Christian members of Parliament, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, together with the Kenya Christian Professional Forum (KCPF) invite you to for a ‘March for the Family’ (anti-gay march) on Monday, 6th July, 2015 to be flagged off by Bishop Mark Kariuki and David Kamau at 9am. The march starts at Uhuru Park, to Kenyatta avenue then to Moi Avenue then Haile Selaisse then back to Uhuru Park. The march is absolutely free.’

AP reported on July 6:

Low turnout marks anti-gay demonstration in Kenya.

“NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A demonstration against homosexuality in Kenya fizzled Monday after attracting only a handful of protesters.

“The demonstration by about 35 people was called by the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and timed to coincide with the visit later this month of U.S. President Barack Obama. The group is calling on Obama not to advocate for gay rights during his visit to Africa July 24-28. …

William Ruto, deputy president of Kenya. (Photo courtesy of
William Ruto, deputy president of Kenya. (Photo courtesy of

“The protest comes a day after Deputy President William Ruto said same-sex couples should leave the country. Gay sex is a crime in Kenya punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and same-sex partners are likely to receive extra attention from police. The Kenyan gay community also complains of sometimes violent harassment.”


Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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