Activists criticise Kenyan leader's call for arrest of all gays

 

GAY RIGHTS activists have criticised Kenya’s prime minister after he called for the arrest of all homosexuals in the country.

Solomon Wambua of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya told The Irish Timesthat Raila Odinga’s comments would push the country’s gay community further underground, exacerbating problems such as sexually transmitted diseases.

“This will only cause further stigmatisation, which will stop people attending clinics, getting health check- ups and accessing anti-retroviral drugs if they need them,” he said. “He should have thought of the repercussions before he said what he did.”

At a rally in Nairobi on Sunday, Mr Odinga said homosexuals should be arrested and taken to the relevant authorities. “We will not tolerate such behaviours in the country. The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared. Even women found engaging in sexual activities will be arrested.”

There was no reason for men to be gay, Mr Odinga told the crowd, when the most recent census showed there were more women than men in Kenya.

Mr Odinga’s comments follow criticism from some quarters in Kenya that the country’s new constitution, which was passed in August, would allow for same-sex unions. “Those were lies from leaders who wanted to confuse Kenyans to reject the new law – the constitution is very clear on that matter,” Mr Odinga added.

“It does not state anywhere that same-sex marriage is legal in Kenya.”

This is the first time Mr Odinga has made such comments in public, it is believed.

Homosexual practices is not legal in Kenya, but is openly tolerated in many bars and nightclubs in the capital, Nairobi.

However, an alleged gay marriage near Mombasa on the coast in February led to public protests and the arrest of five people accused of organising it.

Last year, an MP in neighbouring Uganda introduced a Bill in parliament that would have brought in the death sentence for men caught having sex with other men.

It has since been quietly shelved, but homosexuals there still face up to 14 years in prison.