Hostility to LGBTI community cruel and wrong — NGOs

Some pious religious leaders and family members introduce young people to homosexuality, they said

In Summary

• Concerned Citizens Kenya and Bunge la Wanawake on Saturday accused religious leaders of failing to bring people closer o god by vilifying the gay community.

• At Pembe Za Ndovu, Bunge la Wanawake, led by former nominated Senator Emma Mbura, said nobody is born gay [though scientists say various factors involved].


Bunge La Wanawake founder Emma Mbura at Uhuru Gardens in Mombasa on Saturday, March 18
NOT RIGHT: Bunge La Wanawake founder Emma Mbura at Uhuru Gardens in Mombasa on Saturday, March 18


“Let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone against sexual minorities."

That is the message some human rights groups and women leaders have for the religious leaders who are protesting against gays, lesbians and the entire LGBTQIA community.

They said they themselves do not support the illegal actions of some sexual minorities but said they should not be vilified or harmed.

Some asked rhetorically what would Jesus say about gay people? Should they be ostracised and harmed?  

While stressing that they do not advocate homosexuality, Concerned Citizens Kenya and Bunge la Wanawake on Saturday said religious leaders have abdicated their roles of bringing people closer to God.

Concerned Citizens Kenya convener Bradley Ouna said the protests in Mombasa led by religious leaders on Friday will do more harm than good and breed intolerance. 

“We don’t support the activities of these gay people but they are human beings and are also our brothers and sisters. They deserve to enjoy their right to protection by the State and from the state," Ouna said.

Speaking to the press at Sauti House on Saturday, the human rights defender and lawyer said some protesters on Friday called for the killing those identified as LGBTQI.

“If the government does not do something, we will see deaths in this country,” Ouna warned.

Concerned Citizens Kenya convener Bradley Ouna at Sauti House on Saturday, March 18
DANGEROUS BIGOTRY: Concerned Citizens Kenya convener Bradley Ouna at Sauti House on Saturday, March 18

He said his organisation will in seven days move to court to compel the government to provide protection to these members of society. Most work, pay taxes, take care of families and are responsible citizens, he and others said.

“We are also asking religious leaders and politicians to tone done the rhetoric against these people,” Ouna said.

At Pembe Za Ndovu, Bunge la Wanawake, led by former nominated Senator Emma Mbura, said nobody is born gay. [Some scientists dispute that and say a number of factors are involved in sexual orientation.]

She said some of the religious leaders who are shouting the loudest against homosexuality are the same ones who introduced children to that community.

“We have spoken to many of them (gays) and they tell us they started these things in Catholic schools, introduced to them by Fathers, some started in Sunday schools, others started in madrassas,” Mbura said.

She said some have confessed to being introduced to homosexuality by family members in their own homes.

“When a mother does not have a house help, she leaves her son with her brother who slowly introduces the son to homosexuality, seducing or threatening the boy not to tell anyone,” Mbura said.

In the end, the small boy starts seeing that as a normal thing, Mbura said.

She said it is unfair that those who introduce these small boys to homosexuality are left scot free and now the society wants to condemn and even kill the victims.

“Let us channel our energies in the right places. When you want to oppress the gays and lesbians and leave out the perpetrators, it is  wrong,” Mbura said.

Millicent Odhiambo, a member of the Bunge la Wananchi, said the system being used against the gays and lesbians is the same erroneous one that is being used against drugs.

“In Kenya, those who are using drugs are the ones being arrested and those who bring in the drugs are left scot free. That is why there will always be drugs in Kenya,” Odhiambo said.

She said homosexuality will not end in Kenya as long as those religious leaders, family members, friends and Sunday school teachers who introduced the act to the children are left scot free to rail against sexual minorities.

“We have had cases of people who have sodomised young boys for years but are left scot free by the courts. How do you think the boys who have been sodomised will turn out?" Odhiambo asked.

She said in Mombasa, the practice has become so commonplace that insults, including terms referring to gays and lesbians, are now taken to be greetings.

“These are terms used by parents in the house. The child will definitely know that these are not big issues and they will be okay with them,”  Odhiambo said.

“Today, we want to stone the gays and lesbians yet we as parents are the ones to be stoned for misleading our children.”

Muslims for Human Rights director Khelef Khalifa said the LGBTQI debate in Kenya has taken a political turn and is no longer about family values, but about the West trying to impose the practice on Kenyans.

Speaking to the Star by phone on Sunday, Khalifa said homosexuality has been part of human society for as long as man has lived.

The Constitution clearly forbids and criminalises the acts, he said.

“It is weird for me to see the Muslim community, especially here in Mombasa, coming out in large numbers to protest against homosexuals, when they do not come out when we protest the real issues affecting their lives,” Khalifa said.

The Muhuri director said the Muslim community has got its priorities wrong.

“When we were protesting against the SGR taking over the businesses at the port, none apart from Salim Karama came out. Now they are all over the Mombasa streets against homosexuals, who have been there and have been living among them all their lives,” Khalifa said.

The human rights defender said somebody somewhere has used the LGBTQI debate to divert Kenyans’ attention from the real issues affecting them, including the skyrocketing cost of living.

“In our own homes, we have these people. If they want, we will give names of imams and other religious leaders who have been practicing this for years, but they hide,” Khalifa said.

He said some religious leaders have been jailed for practicing homosexuality.

“But we don’t talk about it because it is a shame,” he said.

He said suddenly Uganda is jailing homosexuals yet they have been around for ages.

“You want to tell me Museveni did not know there are gays and lesbians in Uganda? You want to tell me religious leaders in Mombasa did not know their congregations have gays and lesbians?” Khalifa asked.

He reiterated the hullabaloo about homosexuality is a response to the Western push for gay rights.

“We have our own culture that does not allow those things," Khalifa said, "but people do it in secret. The problem is that the West wants it normalised." 

(Edited by V. Graham)

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