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I write to you as a fellow proud African. A citizen of your neighbour country, Kenya. A person who has visited and loves the beauty that your country has to offer; the mountains, the lakes, the parks and most of all, the people. The unmistakably Tanzanian politeness makes me cringe every time I come back to Nairobi and see how we Kenyans relate to each other. And before any Kenyan reading this gets on the defensive, I should tell you, I am as Kenyan as we come. I am a gay man. At this point, you may want to stop reading this and dismiss it as western propaganda but I urge you to read on. It will only take a few minutes of your time and I assure you, this is far from any western propaganda.

The reason I write to you is because I have watched in awe how your government and a section of the Tanzanian population has been treating people of different sexual orientation and gender identity. From calling for their arrest to stopping the supply of lubricant to having sections of the society call for murder. This is a sad and scary trend and is no way for a society to treat a section of itself.

I’ll start by saying that the Tanzanian population (and in the same way, the Kenyan and Ugandan populations) has within it, people who are black, white, left handed, right handed, living with disabilities, living with albinism, gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex among many other identities. These people have existed in our society since time immemorial (except perhaps the white people who have also been a part of the human race). Homosexuality was not introduced by the west. Anthropological studies (which you may very well dismiss as western propaganda) have shown the existence of people of different sexual orientations and gender identities even before colonization. There are so many resources with this information and please feel free to contact me for links to them.

Having said that, you twitted yesterday, “I am a social justice activist. I am a professional. I know those stuffs. Same sex inclinations are not natural!” Allow me to tell you my story. A story that is the same for many, if not all, gay and lesbian people. At no point in my life did I make the choice to be attracted to people of the same sex as I am. As I grew up and began understanding myself and learnt about what sex is and what the feelings I had were, I realized that unlike the rest of the boys I grew up with, I was not attracted to girls. I am sure that the scenario is the same for people who are attracted to those of the opposite sex. You don’t decide to choose your attraction, you just have it. In my case, I tried to be different. I tried to fit in to what society wants me to be. It did not work. I prayed on it. I contemplated hurting myself. I finally got to the point of accepting that this is who I am. That was the only choice I made, not to be gay but to accept myself for who I am.

I was brought up in a Christian family. Most people in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya were brought up in families of a certain religion. Most religions in one way or another condemn homosexuality. If my sexual orientation was determined by how I was nurtured, I would not have turned out to be what I am. My parents brought me up in a society that vilified me for the feelings I have towards other men. Feelings I cannot control. To this day, my mother does not like that I have these feelings. But there is nothing I can do about them. There is nothing any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person can do about the person they are. We are all as we are.

If you ever sat down with members of the community and listened, and I mean really listened to their stories, you will realize that my story resonates with them. Unfortunately, some of us never got to the point of self-acceptance. Some of us hated themselves so much that they decided that it would be better if they didn’t exist in this world any more. A world that hates them for who they love. A world that discriminates against them in access to opportunities because of the gender they identify with. A world that has government officials declaring them worse than terrorists and calling for their arrest and murder due to something they have no control over. These people took their own lives. Lives that might have amounted to so much had society allowed them a chance to prove themselves worthy.

Banning of the supply of lubricants will not curb homosexuality in any way. What that does, and as a medical doctor I am sure you understand is increase the number of risky sexual practices. Use of condoms without lubricant or using condoms with oil based lubricant will increase the risk of the condom breaking and increase the risk of transmission of HIV and other STIs. Now you may say that banning distribution of lubricant will stop people from having sex but that would be burying your head in the sand. People will still have sex and unfortunately the sex will be risky sex. Let me quote some statistics. As of 2015, There were 1.4 million people living with HIV with the number of new infections being 54,000. That accounts for 5% of the Tanzanian population. HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men was 22.2% and heterosexual sex accounted for the vast majority (80%) of all HIV infections in your country with women being particularly affected. Now due to the crackdown on the LGBTI community, men who have sex with men will try, like I did, to fit in to the society. They will get into sexual relationships and marry women but that will not stop them from having sex with other men. With the risk brought on by the banning of lubricants, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is going to increase from the 22.2% and the attempt by this population to adhere to society’s norm will increase the risk of transmission to women and other heterosexual men and the vicious cycle continues.

In your tweets yesterday you kept repeating that Tanzania has not signed the “Kyogo Protocol”. I have searched all over and haven’t encountered a Kyogo Protocol. I did find a Kyoto Protocol which has nothing to do with homosexuality but all to do with climate change. What I have found however is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Tanzania is a state party to this Covenant. It says that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. Having said that, the protection of the rights of every citizen of Tanzania, Uganda or Kenya should not be hinged on the ratification of any international instrument. It should come from us as human beings. We will never all be the same. We do not all subscribe to the same religion, we are not all of the same skin colour, we are not all of the same sexual orientation or gender identity. The one thing that binds us all together is the fact that we are all human beings. Our differences are what makes our society beautiful. We should all strive to understand our differences and accept them as a part of what our society is. That way, in the spirit of Ubuntu, we shall all live in harmony.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at oluoch@gmail.com should you wish to engage in further conversations. I am sure there are many other Tanzanian individuals who would wish to tell you their story. Allow them to. Understand where they come from and the struggles they have to go through on a daily basis because of something they have absolutely no control over and think about what you as a leader, as a deputy minister for health and as a human being can do to improve the lives of not only the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in your country but the general population.

Sincerely,

Anthony Oluoch

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Why are we so shaken today?vigil It is because we are so used to living with fear, we are so used to the little put-downs so often described as “jokes”. So many of us were bullied at school and rejected by our families that we don’t trust the world around us easily.

We know that we are inviting verbal abuse and the danger of physical attack if we walk around holding our loved one’s hand or kissing in public. We know to check and not behave in a way that is “too gay” if we’re out on the street at night, especially if you’re on your own.

We know we are at risk, and what this foul act of terror in Orlando has done is take that fear and make it concrete.

For many of us, our clubs and bars are the only places we can be ourselves. They are safe spaces away from families, from fellow employees and others who might laugh and jeer. They are often the only places we can relax and show who we are and openly show our love for partners; these are spaces where we can hug, kiss, and just act like the rest of the world does every day.

This month is Pride Month. Our community’s way of taking a stance against the discrimination and violence most of us face every single day of our lives.

Well, on 12th June, one man silenced the voices of 49 individuals. Wounded 53 others and traumatized the whole world. One man hated so much that he caused so much pain to families, friends, lovers and acquaintances.

On 12th June, the world was shown, in sheer unadulterated horror, the result of preaching hate and denying diversity. This is not an isolated incident; thousands of people lose their lives every day. I remember the 147 lives lost in the Garissa Massacre. I remember the 67 lives silenced in The Westgate Mall shooting. I remember the 19 Yazidi girls burnt to death for refusing sexual slavery.

We stand in solidarity with all who have lost their lives in senseless killings the world over. Today, we honor those who died on 12th June. To honor those who lost their loved ones. To honor those who survived the ordeal. To honor those who have been affected in any way.

34-year-old Edward Sotomayor Jr, 22-year-old Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22-year-old Luis S. Vilema, 23-year-old Stanley Almodovar III, 36-year-old Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 25-year-old Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 50-year-old Franky Jimmy Velazquez, 40-year-old Javier Jorge-Reyes, 21-year-old Cory James Connell, 19-year-old Jason Benjamin Josaphat. These are just 10 of the 49 hopes and dreams that will never come true. These names may mean nothing to you. These names however mean everything to their parents, their friends, their brothers and sisters. They mean everything to the people who loved them.

These names could also belong to your parents, your friends, your brothers or sisters. They could belong to people who you love. And that is the message here. We are human beings. We are one people. We breathe, eat, sleep. We love, we are loved. We are one. Even though we may be one, we are diverse. We love differently. We eat differently. We are of different races. We are all different individuals. We must all embrace this diversity. We must all accept this diversity. We must all understand this diversity. That is the only way we will live in peace.

Completely unnecessary, the killing, maiming and traumatizing of all these people two days ago. Completely unnecessary, the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that drives people to committing such heinous acts. Hate is completely unnecessary. It is unnecessary because it never wins. Love always wins. We are not here to condemn anyone, any religion, any political affiliation. We are here to say that love always wins. And even as the families and friends of those who lost their lives start the process of healing, our message to them is this. Love always, every day, forever, wins.

 

Just how many lives need to be senselessly lost before we as human beings start treating each other better? How many families are we willing to destroy in the name of “morality”? What is “moral” about beating a person to death because of something he has absolutely no control over? Which are these African values that we so earnestly yearn to preserve that justify the level of violence that is faced by gay and lesbian people in this continent? Are we not all African regardless of the differences that we all have? Are we not a part of this incredibly diverse society? What gives you the right to take my life or deprive me of employment or evict me from my dwelling place just because I love differently?

We will now never know what Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi would have brought to this world. His life was taken by people who felt that he didn’t deserve to live a full life because he was gay. His life was taken in the cruellest of ways. I keep wondering what must have gone through his mind in his last moments. Was he grateful to have been taken out of a world where fellow human beings hate him and others like himself so? Was he forgiving of his attackers? Did he regret that he chose to live his life authentically? Did he curse his maker for having feelings he couldn’t control that caused him the pain he must have gone through?

I’d like to think that in his last moments, in all the pain he must have been going through, in all the psychological torture he must have been going through, I’d like to think that he forgave his attackers. That he prayed that what happened to him does not happen to any other person. I’d also like to ask those who are saying that he deserved to die to think about his last moments. To think about the fact that this person could have been your brother, your father, your uncle or your best friend. Just think about what would be going through that person’s mind.

We are all human beings. We are all different. It is that difference that makes this world a beautiful place. Let’s embrace it. Let’s not hate others simply for loving differently. No good ever comes of hate and violence. Love always wins.

Rest in Peace Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi. You are in a better place.

I do have the audacity to say that gay and lesbian people pay taxes on national TV because, guess what, we do.

I don’t normally respond to hate messages online. The reason I do so now is because I feel the urge to state the obvious. That I am the same person who spent 4 years with you in high school. I haven’t changed one bit. Granted there is a bit of facial hair and a bald spot on my head where they didn’t exist back then but I am still essentially the same person. You didn’t seem to have any problem with me back then. Why is it that you do, now that you know that I am gay and support the rights of gay and lesbian people?

I have known that my sexual orientation did not conform to the “norm” since as far back as I can remember. I knew I was gay when I was in high school. I didn’t say it then because I didn’t know anyone else who was like me. I lived an incredibly lonely life. A lonely life that I didn’t choose. A life that was filled with questions to myself and my maker. Why did I have to be the one person that society shuns. The one person who will bring shame to my family. The one person who will be violated, beaten, spat on, stigmatized and ostracized by society. Why? I went on a journey of self loathing to understanding and finally accepting myself for who I am. This is a journey all gay and lesbian people have to take. Unfortunately for some, acceptance doesn’t happen and they end up taking their own lives. I almost did.

So, yes. I do pay my taxes. I contribute to society. I provide employment to fellow Kenyans. I am a brother, a son, a friend, a confidant and an incredibly patriotic citizen of this beautiful country. I live through the same security concerns that all Kenyans live through. I experience the same rise in cost of living that all Kenyans experience. I am Kenyan. If my being gay, something I have absolutely no control over, or supporting “gayism” is cause for you to feel ashamed, for you to feel like I am shaming my former school, if my sexual orientation causes you to call on Jesus who, as the Bible so clearly says, preached love, if you have a problem with who I am, what I do, where I do it, then bye Felicia.

In February 2014, I was a victim of an attack. An attack that was one of many that are faced by people for something that they have no control over. Their sexuality.

Today in Kenya, there are many reported cases of violence, discrimination and stigma towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people. The perpetrators forget that we are their brothers, their sisters, their mothers and fathers, their neighbors and friends. They forget that we pay taxes and contribute to society. They forget that we suffer the same insecurity, unemployment and rise in cost of living. They forget that we, like them, are Kenyan.

We did not, just like they did not choose our sexual orientation or gender identity. We are all simply who we are.

We should all understand and accept that Kenya is a diverse nation. Africa is a diverse continent. The world is a diverse place and THAT is what makes it beautiful.

If all Kenyans understand and accept that Kenya has many tribes and each tribe is different and beautiful. That there are many races, each different and beautiful. That there are several sexual orientations and gender identities, each different and beautiful. The moment we all accept each other for who we are. The moment we embrace diversity, then, in the words of our national anthem, peace, love and unity will prevail.

Last month, ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) released the 2014 State Sponsored Homophobia Report. You can read the report here.

This report is a world survey of laws that critically looks at criminalisation, protection and recognition of same-sex love.

In the article, “We Are All African” (Page 78) I note;

But perhaps what could be seen as the most controversial of the responses sought would be aid conditionality. In October 2011, during the Commonwealth Meeting of Heads of State, David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, threatened to reduce development aid to countries that criminalise homosexuality. Shortly after the statement was made, the United States also announced that they would use all available mechanisms, including measures related to development cooperation, to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In February this year, the World Bank postponed a US$90 million loan due to the signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Norway said it would be withholding $8m in development aid to Uganda, and Denmark will divert $9m away from the Ugandan government saying that they couldn’t distance themselves too strongly from the law and the signal that the Ugandan government now sends to not only persecuted minority groups, but to the whole world. Austria said it was reviewing its assistance to Uganda.

What are your thoughts on aid conditionality, particularly when the aid is tied to sexual orientation and gender identity?




On reading “Why Kenya Should Retainand Enforce its Anti-Gay Laws” by Mheshimiwa Irungu Kangata, I didn’t know whether to feel offended or laugh. As much as it was filled with facts about the legal status and the fact that having sex with minors is wrong, it was also filled with a whole load of fallacies that I am going to debunk shortly. It also smelt a lot like a political ploy. What for? We probably will never know, but I have to say this…he learnt from the best. But first, I’m going to be a tad petty (seeing as this whole thing is just that) and say that “gayism”, a word used in his statement very many times and one that the media and many other people use, is not an accepted word. The -ism suffix means “a distinctive doctrine, system, or theory”. Being gay is neither a doctrine nor a system nor a theory. It is neither a lifestyle nor a way of life. It is simply human. 
Yes, carnal knowledge against the order of nature and acts of gross indecency are criminalized under section 162 and section 165 of the Penal Act, Cap 63 Laws of Kenya. I will not delve into the intricacies of what might be construed as “against the order of nature” as that will open a whole can of worms. Mheshimiwa Kangata however does imply that sex between persons of the same sex is against the order of nature. I will allow him that interpretation and say this; a gay man or a lesbian woman is not a criminal just by virtue of being gay or lesbian according to this law. The crime here will be the sexual act and unless this is proven, these people should be left to live in peace.
Which brings me to the Constitutionality of the said sections. This was your third point but I’ll make it my second as it relates to the first. Article 27 of the Constitution of Kenya states that every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law. It further goes on to say that equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms. In order to link Article 27 of the Constitution to the sections of the penal code mentioned above, I will have to talk about the individual gay man and the individual lesbian woman. I will have to demystify the gay and lesbian person. I do not purport to speak for every gay man and every lesbian woman because we are all individuals and we are all different. I will however try to stick as much as I can to facts. In order to do that, I will need to debunk some of Mheshimiwa’s assertions.
Mheshimiwa asserts that all human behaviour is gene-based. This includes eating and heterosexual response. I have done a bit of a layman’s research on the subject and have found no evidence of an eating gene. Eating happens to be the body’s natural response to the need for nourishment. I have not found any evidence of a heterosexual gene. Heterosexuality just happens to be the predisposition of a majority of human beings to be sexually and emotionally attracted to persons of the opposite sex. The absence of a gene determining something does not mean that this thing does not occur naturally. It may mean that these thing is caused by a complex combination of genes that science has not advanced to the level of isolating. It follows therefore that homosexuality just might be natural. We will leave this debate to the scientists who are making great strides in trying to understand sexuality.
If you actually took the time to talk to gay and lesbian persons, a majority of them will tell you that they do not remember a time that they did not have feelings for persons of their sex. Because of the lack of a concrete scientific proof of when a person becomes homosexual, one has to go to the individual person. Something that Mheshimiwa has not done in his article. The homosexual person will tell you of the internal struggles they have had to go through due to the fact that they have been brought up in a significantly heterogeneous society and anything other than that is wrong. The struggles they have had to go through to fit in, others even going as far as getting married and attempting conversion therapy. They will tell you of the struggles with their sexual orientation that drives some of them to attempting suicide because they live in a world that does not accept them for who they are and have no control over. A majority of them will tell you that they are against murder, theft, bestiality, paedophilia and other abhorrent practices often compared with homosexuality. As a matter of fact, that comparison is slanderous to innocent people. What this comparison does, especially in relation to child abuse, is to direct attention from the real threats to children and that is a serious moral concern.
In arguing the unconstitutionality of homosexual conduct, Mheshimiwa quotes Article 45 of the Constitution which speaks about family. I’ll say this; gay men and lesbian women are ok with that Article as it is. It does not affect homosexuals in any way. That article is about a heterosexual family. He asserts that the family unit ought to be protected. I agree with him completely. After all, I am a product of a heterosexual relationship which I hope will be protected as such. That protection however does not impose an obligation on every Kenyan to form a heterosexual family unit which is what he infers when he says that the “homosexual lifestyle” diminishes chances of said individual founding a heterosexual family unit. In any society that we live in, there will always exist heterosexual persons (who are a majority) and homosexual persons. The heterosexual family has been protected in the Constitution and we are all happy with that. Heterosexual men and women may continue forming their family units. Homosexuals will attend the weddings and even plan the weddings for them. I also would like to ask, how does the homosexual lifestyle pull some out of heterosexual marriages?
On that note, and because we are still talking about the individual, I’d like to state now that a heterosexual person cannot be recruited into homosexuality. Like I said earlier, homosexuality is not a lifestyle that is chosen. If it is, then any heterosexual man or woman who can figure out the point in their lives in which they chose to be heterosexual should let us know. Because sexual orientation is not chosen and just is, then recruitment into a sexual orientation that one isn’t is an extremely ridiculous notion. 
Just because society needs some people to procreate it doesn’t follow that everyone is obligated to procreate. A university professor was once told by a priest that if everyone were homosexual then society wouldn’t exist. This is an argument that has been used over and over again to belittle people fighting for the rights of gay and lesbian persons. It is an argument that Mheshimiwa has used in interviews and during the recent hate mongering anti-gay protest. The university professor responded to the priest and said, “If everyone were a Roman Catholic priest, there’d be no society either.” I bring this up because, at no point will everyone be homosexual. There will never come a time when everyone is heterosexual. We need to understand that our society is a complex mix of diversity and once we accept this fact, we will live with each other in peace.
I will now explain why I still think that criminalizing consensual same sex conduct is creating a victimless crime. Mheshimiwa lists victimless crimes to include suicide, cruelty to animals, rules relating to uniforms among others. Suicide has a victim. The person committing suicide is the victim. Cruelty to animals has victims. The animals are the victims. When two consenting adults love each other, no one is harmed. Most opponents claim that the society is the victim but I have made it clear hereinabove that the society does not suffer at all from homosexuality. As a matter of fact, within the society, gay men and lesbian women contribute to taxes, they provide services that are needed by people in the society, they are doctors, teachers, lawyers, farmers and they are necessary for the wellbeing of the society.
Having said all that, and knowing that in any society, there is inevitably going to be a minority who are homosexual, the sections in the penal code effectively criminalizes a section of the society. This essentially goes against the Constitution. Article 27 on equality for all is not applied when a section of the Kenyan society is criminalized for something that they have no control over whatsoever.
Mheshimiwa says that that homosexuality did not exist in pre-colonial Africa. He claims that it is the work of liberal writers with an apologist streak trying to rewrite African history. I would like to task Mheshimiwa to explain that statement. Who are these writers and does he have any proof of the non-existence of homosexuality in pre-colonial Africa seeing as he says this with such conviction. I would like however to quote an anthropological study that has shown the existence of homosexuality in Africa before colonization. Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe in their book “Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies in African Homosexualities” list a broad array of instances of homosexuality in Africa before colonization; Tutsi boys during their training away from the village to become warriors often have sexual relationships together, some of which last into adulthood. Among the Iteso, people of hermaphroditic instincts are very numerous. The men are impotent and have the instincts of women and become women for all intents and purposes; their voices are feminine and their manner of walking and of speech is feminine. There are a lot more examples of instances of homosexuality in Africa and I would love for Mheshimiwa to read the book whose contributors include anthropologists, sociologists, historians, linguists, colonial doctors, missionaries and journalists.
An interesting quote in the book is one that shows how the blatant homophobia in Africa is actually what was imported from the west and not homosexuality. “What began with denial (the myth created by Europeans) has ended in a near taboo on the subject of African homosexualities – a taboo nonetheless based on European, not African, morality.  The colonialists did not introduce homosexuality to Africa.  Instead, the Europeans introduced intolerance of homosexuality – and systems of surveillance and regulation for suppressing it.  These systems failed as long as the African reaction was to hide or deny such practices.  Only when native people began to forget that same-sex patterns were ever a part of their culture did homosexuality become truly stigmatized.”
Mheshimiwa states that we are founded on Bentham’s utilitarian philosophy of “greatest happiness for the greatest number”. This is a dangerous statement coming from a person who has been elected by his people to represent them. His constituency contains people who are a minority. It contains persons living with disability. It contains albino people. It contains persons of different tribes. There is massive diversity in his constituency. Does he mean to say that the minority in said constituency are not considered? We need to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

I just watched the Second Reading of the England and Wales Marriage Equality Bill. It was an interesting debate that brought about quite a number of questions. The one that really resonated with me is, does voting against the bill make one a homophobe? I don’t think it does. People have different opinions which they are completely entitled to. However, so many sentiments were brought out in the debate that got me thinking about homophobia…specifically in Kenya, and other places. By the way, everyone should read the speech by David Lemmy on Same Sex Marriage today. It was brilliant! “Thank goodness we solved that whole financial crisis unemployment recession thing and can now focus on important things like stopping love.” I read that quote on Twitter sometime back. Why stop love? Why hate gay people? Why hate anyone at all? These are questions I have asked myself countless times and they are questions I am sure many have asked themselves (except of course those people who go around hating others for no apparent reason whatsoever), the answers to which are not usually forthcoming. This is why I set about thinking critically about the issue. One of the common reasons why homophobes hate gay people is religion. Now religion has been attributed to some of the world’s worst atrocities. This, I should put out clearly, as much as that statement may appear as a vendetta against religion, it really isn’t. I am simply stating facts. The fact is that the homophobe will be quoted as saying something to the effect that God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. The homophobe will also be heard quoting Bible verses. The favorite of which can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes (something something) that talks about man lying with another man as with a woman (whatever that means). So why is religion such a hater of gay people? Why does the homophobe use the one book that says “Love thy neighbor as thou lovest thyself” (pardon the loose use of the “King James” tongue) to hate another person just because of who they are? I am also pretty sure that there is a surat(?) in the Quran that says something about loving everyone. But why pick out the one verse that says something about lying with another man and use it to hate on other people? Why not also consider the fact that the same book in the Bible talks about shellfish and eating it and hate on people who eat the same? Is this not a case of double standards? I think this particular class of homophobe has mastered the art of picking out from religion the one thing that he considers easiest for him to do and has spun it out of proportion. So much so that he doesn’t even have the capacity to see what else he is missing out on. Another argument that the homophobe uses to hate gay people is that homosexuality is against nature. This particular concept has even been encapsulated in legislation. The law talks about “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”. Now this is a question that was asked in my Jurisprudence class and is a question that has been debated on by many. Who defines “nature”? Who has the authority to tell what is “in the order of nature” and what is not? I for one think that two people loving each other and caring for one another is one of the most natural things in the world. It doesn’t matter what age they are, what the color of their skin is, it doesn’t even matter what sex they are. I think that it is extremely natural for a man to love a woman. In the same light, it is extremely natural for a man to love a man and a woman to love a woman. But the question remains, who defines what is “natural” and what is not? Is it what is considered by the majority as “natural” that should be so? As a minority (of whatever caliber) do you think that what the majority say should always apply to you and that you do not have a say about it just because you do not belong to the “class” that is the majority? In the African context, the homophobe also talks about homosexuality being un-African. They say that it is a western import and that it did not exist in Africa before colonization. There have been countless studies whose details I shall not go into that show how rampant homosexuality was in Africa way before colonization. These studies with the proof they carry within them make this argument, to a very large extent, extremely moot. Calling homosexuality a western import and using religion to make your point is possibly the worst case of double standards one can think of. How one can use a western import to hate on another “western import” is beyond my understanding. Which brings us to the Kenyan context. The Kenya National Commission for Human Rights recently released a report on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in which it recommended decriminalization of homosexuality so as to improve the sexual rights situation in the country. This report has been received by mixed reactions. It has stirred so much debate that the homophobe has woken up using the usual arguments to hate on homosexuals. The homophobe has even managed to steer the debate away from what it is exactly that the movement wants, which is equality and non-discrimination, to gay marriage. I personally applaud the National Commission for not only focusing on reproductive rights but also including sexual rights in its report. It was a bold move on its part considering the immensely homophobic environment we live in and it was a very necessary move. Africans need to understand that among them, there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people. These people are African by every sense of the word. The Kenyan constitution itself recognizes them as such when it states that every person should be treated equally before the law. Nowhere in the constitution does it say, “Every person except the gays”. It recognizes each and every Kenyan as a person. It is this lack of understanding that leads to Kenyans hating their fellow Kenyans. Much akin the ethnic differences that we have witnessed in the recent past. Until people are properly sensitized on the law and what it says about PEOPLE, until the homophobe learns that the arguments he uses to hate the gay person really are redundant in so many ways, until the gay person comes out and decides that he/she has had enough of the hate and is willing to speak up and speak out about himself/herself and against the hate, then we are going nowhere. Fast!