TRANS AWARENESS WEEK: prosecute the senseless killings of gender minorities in Kenya

TRANS AWARENESS WEEK: prosecute the senseless killings of gender minorities in Kenya

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A few months ago, a transgender woman was gruesomely murdered and her body found lying along General Mathenge Drive in Westlands, Nairobi. She is yet to get justice.

The fact that little is being done to track down and arrest the perpetrators is just one more example of the continued killings and violations that the LGBTIQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Queer) community face under the penal code.

Section 162(a) and (c) of the Penal Code says that it is a felony for any person to have “carnal knowledge of any other person against the order of nature” or to permit “a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature.” 

According to the National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s (NGLHRC) legal report 2020, 24 incidents of physical assault against members of this community were reported with 20 cases currently under investigation.

This is a clear indication that LGBTIQ persons living in Kenya continue to be violated due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The familiar pattern of assault, murder and the blindness of the legal system leads me to wonder whether transgender lives are worth less in the Republic of Kenya.

Kenyans are governed by the constitution which is a unifying factor for all, yet sexual and gender minorities are consistently discriminated against and treated as less than human. Under the bill of rights, state and non-state actors are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex, and other factors such as belief and conscience to name a few,.

The government should accord protection to all its citizens by ensuring implementation of progressive laws and policies that are inclusive of sexual and gender minorities.

Partnering with existing civil society organizations will encourage opportunities to educate and sensitize themselves on LGBTIQ+ Rights through having gender inclusive policies such as gender transformative approaches in their line of work. 

Religious leaders also play a role in educating the masses on the need to respect and preserve the lives of everyone including LGBTIQ+ persons as most doctrines preach love and humanity which are values that are lacking in our society today. 

As upholders of human rights, the LGBTIQ+ community deserve equal protection of their human rights. How would you feel if your sibling, parent, friend or colleague was murdered for being different from what society terms as normal? The punishment does not fit the crime, and what’s worse is that in this case merely existing is considered a crime for sexual minorities.

Every Kenyan is responsible for upholding and safeguarding the rights and freedoms of every individual regardless of one’s religion, cultural beliefs and sexuality.

We are calling upon every Kenyan to protect and uphold human rights by familiarizing ourselves with organizations that champion for LGBTIQ+ rights, which is a sure step to building alliance with the LGBTIQ Community.

Diane Odhiambo is the Communications & Media Relations Lead at The National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC)