In honor of International Human Rights Day and as part of the Global Studies series Coming Out in the Developing World, Project Africa co-hosted a conversation with Kenyan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender activist David Kuria Mbote. David is the Executive Director of GALCK (The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya).
The event was held at the New School on the 10th of December 2010. The event drew a very large crowd, all eager to hear about the leading role David has played in advocating for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Kenya, combatting homophobia, and raising awareness for LGBT issues in Kenya.
While Uganda’s homosexuality debates have been widely covered in the Western press since the “Kill the Gays” bill was proposed, the story in neighboring Kenya is less well known – though no less disturbing.
In September 2010, David was targeted for extermination by American evangelicals who advocate “zero tolerance” for gays and lesbians. Crude posters of David – said to have been printed in the States – were plastered around the country calling for his death.
Despite these threats and very real personal security concerns, David is currently running for Senator in the Kiambu County of Kenya. If elected, he will become Kenya’s first openly gay legislator and only the second in Africa.
David discussed the history of homosexuality in Kenya and the political forces that have shaped public perception. He was open about the challenges he has faced in his personal struggle and the reasons he has hope that Kenya – by decriminalizing homosexuality – can lead the way for greater tolerance and respect in East Africa and beyond.
He spoke of GALCK’s work – as an umbrella organization for LGBT groups in the country – and of the successes it has had negotiating for greater recognition of the rights of gays and lesbians, particularly when it comes to access to HIV/AIDS medicines and care.
David’s presentation was followed by a rich question and answer session. The entire event was filmed by In the Life Media, which has extensively covered the situation in Uganda.
To learn more about GALCK, please visit their website at http://www.galck.org
Thanks to Jacqueline Gares of In the Life Media for filming the event.