By Joseph Odero
In the wake of several preachers’ anti-homosexuality sermons earlier this year in west Kenya, four men attacked a gay street vendor, raped him, and set his home on fire.
Erik Wasike, 28, an openly gay hawker of vests, socks, sweets and soft drinks, was abducted by the four unidentified men in Bungoma town in west Kenya at around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 14, he said.
After the rape, which included Wasike being violated with a carrot and with a knife inserted through his anus, he was hospitalized for two weeks and needed corrective surgery at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu.
The men set Wasike’s house ablaze, destroying it and his furniture. They tied him up and left him unconscious in Lwakhakha village, he said.
Passersby took him to Sirisia subcounty hospital, where he regained consciousness. He was bleeding from the anus. After his discharge, the bleeding continued and he was admitted for treatment at the larger hospital in Kisumu. Well-wishers paid for his medical treatment. He is currently staying at a friend’s home.
Wasike said his attackers accused him of spreading “the gay gospel” and luring many people into a “demonic denomination” that worships by means of same-sex intercourse and “linking peoples anuses.” They also said that he shamed them because, like them, he is Bukusu, a subtribe of the Luhya ethnic group in western Kenya.
About three months ago, many Bungoma clergymen launched a preaching campaign against homosexuality, terming it un-Christian, satanic and un-African. During that campaign, they called for the death penalty for gays.
Among those clergymen was Bungoma-based Bishop George Mechumo of the Anglican Church of Kenya, who last year called homosexuality a threat to the family and said it must be condemned “in the strongest terms possible.”
“Although gays and lesbians are part of the society, which demands that people be left to make their sexual orientation choices freely, God does not allow or approve of these unnatural acts,” Mechumo said.
Members of a Bungoma pastors’ community development association issued a statement denouncing homosexuality.
The anti-gay campaign came during a months of fears about homosexuality, which included worries that President Obama would push for same-sex marriage during his visit to Nairobi in July. In fact, Obama told Kenyans, “I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law. … The state should not discriminate based on their sexual orientation.”
After Obama’s visit, Bishop Mechumo spoke against homosexuality, but also urged the Kenyan government to focus on other issues, such as the economy, national security, and abuse of drugs and alcohol, that have a greater effect on the country rather than homosexuality.
Wasike said his attackers claimed that they raped him so he would be “satisfied to the fullest” and would not continue with homosexual behavior. They said they torched his house because “the devil must be removed, even that hidden in the clothes.”
One of the attackers claimed that he would take him home as his “wife,” Wasike said.
After the attack, he had to use sanitary towels to contain the bleeding. He was confined to his friend’s home for more than a month because he was embarrassed to be seen by his peers and family members.
“At first I was in denial because I could not imagine that such a thing could happen to me but I was eventually able to handle the situation after psychological counseling,” he said. He was counseled both by a trained psychosocial counselor and by a psychological counselor who is also an LGBTI activist.
At first, Wasike said, he was unable to discuss the experience with his friends or with the members of his psychotherapy support group for HIV-positive people. Now he encourages other rape victims to be open about their experiences so they can get medical help and heal psychologically.
“Some gay men who have gone through what I did fear visiting hospitals, due to shame and risk their health,” he said.
Wasike did not report the rape to police for fear that, if he did so, he would face further stigma and possible arrest for being gay.
When asked about the case, Charles Munyoli at the Lwakhakha police station said, “We hear people saying such cases are there, but no one has reported to us to enable us commence investigations.”
Joseph Odero is the pseudonym of an LGBTI advocate promoting tolerance in the faith communities of rural Kenya.
This article was revised Dec. 16, 2015, to correct the spelling of Wasike’s name to “Erik” from “Eric.”
- 3 ousted priests sue Church of Kenya over gay charges (Dec. 8, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Anglican Church suspends five clerics over homosexuality (Sept. 10, 2015, Standard Media)
- Kenyan ‘gay’ priest facing expulsion from church (Sept. 6, 2015, Nairobi News)
- ACK suspends four gay ‘married with kids’ priests (Sept. 10, 2015, Nairobi News)
- Obama in Kenya: ‘Treat people equally under the law’ (July 25, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Kenya buzzing with anti-gay worries as it awaits Obama’s visit (July 21, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- U.S.-based church votes to support LGBTI Africans (July 3, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Kenya: Homosexuality Serious As Terrorism – Duale (March 2014, Capital FM)
- Kenya: Bungoma Cleric Slams Gay Unions (March 2014, The Star)