Thursday, Nov 27th 2014

Gays flee Mombasa over public attacks

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY MARTIN MWITA
FEAR: Omar Hassan alias Amina with Samuel Kamau alias Esther in Mombasa. Photo Norbert Allan
FEAR: Omar Hassan alias Amina with Samuel Kamau alias Esther in Mombasa. Photo Norbert Allan

HUNDREDS of men who have sex with men at the Coast have moved away from major towns for fear of their lives.

According to statistics by the Mtwapa Initiative for Positive Empowerment, an organisation working with MSMs in Mombasa and Kilifi counties, more than 200 of the men now avoid public health facilities.

Mipe says a number of the homosexuals default from HIV treatment for fear of victimisation following the heightened debate about homosexuality in the country.

The debate, escalated by the passing of harsh antigay law by the Uganda government, is reported to have subjected MSMs at the Coast to psychological torture, public humiliation and even violent attacks by the public.

Speaking to the Star yesterday, Mipe director Evans Gichuru said they have recorded more than 20 cases where MSMs have been abused in public, forced to alight from public service vehicles and stopped from buying commodities from shops especially in Mtwapa and Mombasa.

“The cases have become more rampant following the Uganda case. We are afraid they may go even into institutions like colleges and schools, where anyone with feminine characteristics will be targeted,” Gichuru said.

A number of Kenyans have been calling for a replica of the Ugandan law signed by President Yoweri Museveni last month, outlawing homosexuality in Uganda. According to Mipe, Mombasa has more than 1,500 MSMs with about 700 practising commercial sex work in the city.

The city also has the highest number of MSMs in the country, according to a report by the National Aids Control Council. NACC also ranks Mombasa fifth among counties with the highest HIV-Aids burden in Kenya.