Resolution 32/2 adopted by the Human Rights Council on 30th June 2016 was a huge victory for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It called on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It stressed the need to maintain joint ownership of the international human rights agenda and to consider human rights issues in an objective and non-confrontational manner. It also undertook to support a broad and balanced agenda, and to strengthen the mechanisms addressing issues of importance including fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their forms. It reiterated the importance of respective regional, cultural and religious value systems as well as particularities in considering human rights issues.

This resolution deplored the use of external pressure and coercive measures against States particularly developing countries, including through the use and threat of use of economic sanctions and the application of conditionality to official development assistance, with the aim of influencing the relevant domestic debates and decision-making processes at the national level. It underlined that it should be implemented while ensuring respect for the sovereign right of each country as well as its national laws, development priorities, the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and should also be in full conformity with universally recognized international human rights.

This resolution then made history by, for the first time ever, creating the mandate of an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution was however heavily contested with Saudi Arabia requesting a no-action motion saying that motion was a last attempt to make co-sponsors understand the consequences of this deeply divisive proposal that failed to recognize cultural differences.  They said that the draft was contrary to international human rights law and would disregard the universality of human rights. Nigeria supported the no-action motion saying that the draft was divisive and was concerned that the lack of definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity and the attached human rights and fundamental freedoms carried certain responsibility for States. They said that the controversial views of those issues could not be imposed by some Member States and that the adoption of the resolution would ensure that the attention on sexual orientation and gender identity issues as seen by the Western States would take root in the United Nations, without taking into account the views of a large number of States.

A myriad of amendments that would have weakened the resolution were tabled most of which were rejected by The Council and those that were accepted, actually increased the scope of the resolution. This resolution not only faced opposition from within the Human Rights Council, but also from a section of civil society who were concerned, understandably so, that the creation of a mandate on sexual orientation and gender identity would undermine the intersectionalities of struggle that exist within our society. This matter was heavily debated and I do not believe that there will ever be a consensus on it, as with most civil rights issues. The resolution passed with 23 states voting in favor, 18 (including Kenya) voting against and 6 abstentions (most notable of the abstentions being South Africa, a State that was previously seen as a beacon of hope for LGBT people what with it having constitutional protection everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity).

The reason why I give such a detailed background on Resolution 32/2 is because this historic resolution is under threat. I realize “threat” may be a rather strong word but that is essentially what the African Group is doing. The African Group has proposed a resolution that seeks to “…defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 32/2…on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis upon which the mandate of the special procedure established therein will be defined.”

Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Botswana expressed deep concern over attempts to introduce and impose new notions and concepts that were not internationally agreed upon, particularly in areas where there was no legal foundation in any international human rights instruments. The African Group was even more disturbed at attempts to focus on certain persons on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviors, while ignoring that other types of intolerance and discrimination regrettably still existed. While deploring all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, hate speech and violence, the African Group stated that adoption of resolution 32/2 would be at the detriment of issues of paramount importance, such as the right to development. The African Group also believes that notions of sexual orientation and gender identity should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments. They then called for the suspension of the appointed Independent Expert’s activities, pending the determination of clarity on the issue.

While a call for deferment of consideration of and action on the resolution may not technically be a no-action motion, it effectively does exactly what a no-action motion would do. The resolution by the African Group as drafted does not give a time period for the deferment and what it does is indefinitely defer any action on resolution 32/2. One of the mandates of the Independent Expert is to address the multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of violence and discrimination faced by persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Look at the hundreds of LGBT people who have died in violent attacks all over the world including in Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa. Some of these violent attacks go unreported because of the stigma that comes with being LGBT.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not new notions. They may be recent terms but people have had different sexual orientations and gender identities the world over, including in Africa since time immemorial. We have contributed to the society’s development, we are your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, we are your friends and neighbors and we cannot change who we are. Yet we constantly face violence and threats of violence due to the fact that we are of a sexual orientation or gender identity that is different. The intolerance and discrimination that we face is just as real as any other intolerance and discrimination that exists in our society. We face those too. Resolution 32/2 as I mentioned earlier supports the strengthening of mechanisms that address these intolerance and discrimination.

Notions of sexual orientation and gender identity are linked to International Human Rights Instruments. There is a legal foundation for the mandate of Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As Arvind Narrain says in his blog post about South Africa, The principle of universality of rights and the principle of non-discrimination on any status are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the ICCPR. Further the Human Rights Council under OP2 of GA resolution 60/251 has the responsibility for “promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner.” We should not face violence or discrimination not because we are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, but because we are human beings, and any measure taken to address this violence and discrimination should not be opposed but supported in every way.

This is therefore a plea to the Africa Group. While you propose to defer action on resolution 32/2, hundreds of LGBT Africans are facing violence, discrimination and even death on the grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity. While you call for the suspension of the appointed Independent Expert’s activities, hundreds of citizens in your countries are being beaten in the streets, face mental anguish due to stigma and are even facing corrective rape. Resolution 32/2 respects the sovereign right of each country as well as its national laws, development priorities, the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people. It is rooted, in its entirety, under International Human Rights Instruments. Your proposed resolution not only ignores the lived reality of LGBT citizens of your countries but also undermines the mandate of the Human Rights Council. Please don’t let your citizens down.

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I’m not one for political commentary. It’s the second time now that I say that. I think that means that I can call myself a novice political commentator…but I digress. Kenyan politics has for a long time been a thorn in my backside, a painful one at that. I listen to some of our politicians speak and cringe at some of their utterances. I watch bewildered as news article after news article is released telling us how we have lost hundreds of millions of tax payer money to corruption in the hands of our elected leaders. I watch as someone chosen to make our laws says that a section of the society is worse than dogs.

Ever since I could vote, I have seen political parties formed with incredible manifestos promising Kenyans unity and then get in power and do everything that would divide us. I have seen young men and women go on the campaign trail promising to eradicate corruption only to be elected and become the very perpetrators of this thing they were meant to get rid of.

All this is bound to make one give up. To make one think, “what is the point in all this?” To make one decide that politics will always remain the same. Promises, elections, complacency. But what does that then do? It keeps the status quo. It makes the situations for Kenyans even worse. It changes nothing!

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Well, there is a new Political Party in town. One whose vision is a country that faithfully affirms and religiously implements the constitutional values and principles of governance in the Constitution. One that seeks to provide and promote equitable economic development and good governance at all levels. One whose guiding principles include respect for human rights and freedoms.

Now, it is entirely possible that I may be caught in the promise loop mentioned earlier, but I am simply done with the old. Most people say, “better the devil you know.” I say that  that devil has hurt me and mine a few too many times. I am going to be a part of creating the change I need to see in my country.

Every Kenyan above 18 with an urge to make a difference in their country, join the Equity and Equality Party.

CLICK HERE to read the party’s Constitution

CLICK HERE to fill in the membership form

Dear Mr. President,

I am not one for political commentary, which is really silly seeing as words are the only way I know how to express myself, but I feel like the time has come for me to say something. This doesn’t mean that my words will mean much, I mean, I’m sitting here eating last night’s leftovers of ugali and sukuma wiki while your offspring (allegedly) racked up a bill of one point something million shillings for champagne to wash their hands in order to smoke two packets of Embassy Lights (which reminds me, I only have 5 sticks of those left). I feel that it’s time for me to say something because the potential and hope that most of us had when most of us elected you, even though that last bit was contested but that is not the point here, that potential, that hope, that belief that our country was going to go into heights of prosperity, has all but dissipated from our minds. I am sorry Your Excellency but I put the blame on you.

Now I am not saying that you have not done good things for this country. You have! The Standard Gauge Railway, fantastic! We are now over 50% connected to the power grid, although I might have a word or two to say about Kenya Power. Look at the roads you’ve built for us, and the enrolment in our schools by much needing children. You also beat the International Criminal Court emphasizing our sovereignty which clearly is a big deal for the Kenyan people. You have ensured that the fight against the Al Shabaab continues even though that has inadvertently caused a rise in terrorist attacks in our country killing hundreds of people. That war however has to continue, Al Shabaab has to be stopped. And not forgetting, you were selected as the Daily Maverick’s African of the Year in 2014. Not a small feat for the incredibly charismatic person you are.

My problem however is one of your biggest failures. You, Your Excellency, have failed to unite Kenyans. It was a part of your manifesto back in 2013. In fact, I think there was a whole chapter on “Umoja” (not to be confused with the estate). You were to use affirmative action to ensure that underrepresented and marginalized groups were properly represented in every respect. You were to ensure that all IDPs were settled and where possible returned to their homes in accordance with the law and have a decent place to live. You were to ensure that 30% of all appointees to public bodies and parastatals were women (HA!). You were also to actively promote the appointment of young people, persons living with disabilities and marginalized groups to public positions. All this was to tackle the challenge of Kenyan politics becoming mired in personal animosity as political competitors fail to conduct themselves in a professional and civilized manner. Too often this animosity being allowed to turn into ethnic rivalry with hate speech employed to rouse fear and despondency among different communities, all for political gain (from your manifesto).

This country is however more divided than ever before. We have the Jubilee Kikuyus and the Cord Luos (which would make me, as has been evidenced in recent past: Read Brexit, Jubord or Corilee). While you are not solely to blame for this, you are the head of state. You are my president. You are not a Jubilee president but the President of the Republic of Kenya. I am a Kenyan citizen (who happens to be gay but that is a conversation for another day) and I do not like the ethnic divisions I see in my country. You have failed to unite us when you take way too long to rebuke the hate speech spewed by some MP’s who support you. You have failed to unite us when you fail to uphold the 30% women appointees that you promised. You have failed to unite us when you pledge support for your Deputy President in 2022. I understand political pandering but by God, you are our President! You have failed to unite us when you see a country divided and take no visible steps to rectify it.

Your Excellency, firing your hashtag generators (while retaining the main one) is all well and good. But it is not enough. Fight corruption and let us actually see you doing it. Engage in dialogue with the opposition, who by the way are also on my [expletive deleted] list. Let us actually see some initiative in you, our President, in reducing the hate and division that is now plaguing this beautiful country that is so diverse and full of potential. Please Mr. President, let us not have our people brace for violence in 2017 which, I should tell you, we already are. Mr. President, I beg of you. UnitTribe kenyae us.

Sincerely

Concerned Citizen

As much as the literacy rate in Kenya is far better than in most other African countries, quality education is something hard to come by. Most students graduate from school with degrees upon degrees but unable to apply what they’ve learned in school to help better their living conditions. About 50% of the entire Kenyan populace live below poverty line according to the new multidimensional poverty index with the unemployment rate around hovering around 40%.
Although youth education especially girl-child education is helping a lot in breaking the cycle of new HIV/AIDS infections in Kenya, the number of children orphaned by HIV in Kenya is as high as 1. 3 million.
 
Like in most African countries, about a large percentage of the total population of Kenya are subsistence farmers who grow crops and rear animals just to feed themselves and their families and in times of crop failure, most of these families go starving. The unpredictable climatic conditions in Kenya sometimes worsen the situation. From the tropical regions along the coast to the arid interior regions of Kenya, natural havocs such as recurring drought and unpredictable flooding during the rainy seasons sometimes put many rural families in nothing but absolute poverty.
Corruption and poor leadership are the other major concerns faced by Kenyans. Corruption in Kenya has become so bad that citizens consider corruption a “normal” part of everyday life. Incompetent leadership and poor governance continue to tear Kenya into pieces.
On the 16th of May 2014, twin explosions at Gikomba market claimed the lives of more than 10 Kenyans. On the 4th of May 2014, homemade bombs were exploded on two commuter buses on the Thika Highway in Nairobi killing 3 Kenyans and injuring at least 62 others. On the 3rd of May 2014, twin terrorist attacks in Mombasa killed 3 Kenyans. In Nairobi’s Eastleigh district, 6 Kenyans were killed and dozens more injured when terrorists exploded bombs at two separate locations. On 2 April 2015, gunmen stormed the Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya, killing 147 people, and injuring 79 or more. These are just a few of the deaths that have happened in Kenya due to insecurity. 
What isn’t and shouldn’t be an area of priority for our leaders is homosexuality. Two consensual adults loving each other should not be reason for Kenyans to stop what they are doing and go out in the streets to demonstrate. Gay and lesbian people suffer the same insecurity, corruption, unemployment and everything else that the rest of the Kenyans are facing. Yet the deputy president, backed by other politicians and religious leaders says that there is no room for homosexuals in Kenya. Let us break that statement down for a moment. 
A gay man owns a hotel. He provides employment to more than 50 Kenyans. He pays his taxes. He provides services as hoteliers do. He supports the declining tourism market. A lesbian woman has a kiosk selling vegetables. She provides sustenance to members of her community. She does no wrong. She pays her taxes. Another gay man owns a beauty salon. He beautifies ladies so that they look good enough to attend political functions with their husbands who are the same politicians who say that there is no room for him in this country. He also pays his taxes. There is no room for these people in this country? These people whose hard earned tax money goes to pay these politician’s hefty salaries? These same politicians who claim that there is no room for these people in this country use the same tax money to grab land owned by schools, issue questionable contracts among other scandals (allegedly).

We need to place priority where priority is due. My relationship with another man has no effect on you whatsoever. I do not threaten any family. I do not cause you not to eat your Ugali for dinner. I do not cause you any harm. Corruption, insecurity, unemployment; these are the things that affect you. No matter what any politician says about homosexuality. Consider the fact that they are only using homosexuality to divert attention to what they are doing or not doing in their capacity as leader. They are using this highly emotive issue to get attention away from that land they grabbed. Away from that contract they irregularly offered. Away from all the issues that actually affect you and yours.


On the 22nd of June 2014, inter-clan clashes left over 20 Kenyans dead in Wajir. From the 15th to the 17th of June 2014, more than 60 Kenyans were killed in attacks in Mpeketoni at the coast of Kenya. On the 16thof May 2014, twin explosions at Gikomba market claimed the lives of more than 10 Kenyans. On the 4th of May 2014, homemade bombs were exploded on two commuter buses on the Thika Highway in Nairobi killing 3 Kenyans and injuring at least 62 others. On the 3rd of May 2014, twin terrorist attacks in Mombasa killed 3 Kenyans. In Nairobi’s Eastleigh district, 6 Kenyans were killed and dozens more injured when terrorists exploded bombs at two separate locations. These are just a few of the deaths that have happened in Kenya in the past couple of months. The one and only important common factor in all these cases is the fact that Kenyans are dying. 
The most unfortunate thing is that these attacks come at a time when Kenyans are heavily divided. A division that is being widened by the utterances of some of our politicians including, and this is the saddest thing, by the head of state. I am personally not a proponent of either Jubilee or Cord, the main players in Kenya’s political field. That said, I have watched in dismay as both factions have said and done things that they really shouldn’t have. 
The objective of democracy is to enable the citizens to participate in the governance of the country. Kenyans exercised their democratic right last year and elected His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta to the highest position of the land. As much as this election was contested, the courts ruled that he was the duly elected President. This then made him the President of Kenya. Not the President of Jubilee supporters. Not the President of the Kikuyu community but the President of Kenya. Mandated to think about the welfare of every single citizen of Kenya; be they Kikuyu, Luo, Giriama, Luhya, male, female, living with disability, elderly, child, gay, straight, white or black. 
The rise in insecurity has placed every Kenyan citizen at risk. The rise in corruption has increased the cost of living in Kenya without increasing the wage of the average Kenyan. The warped priorities of our law makers have made it such that the important issues facing Kenyans are not tackled. These are the people we democratically placed in a position to work on our behalf and ensure that we live in a secure, corruption free state (a naïve yet achievable goal) where services, be they health, security or education are easily attainable by all of us. 
Raila Odinga recently called for a national dialogue. While this is not a bad idea in the face of it, details of it need to be made clear to the citizenry. As Gordon Omondi so rightfully asks, What is this national dialogue? Is it a national holiday where people gather somewhere and the President addresses the nation? Will it happen between the Government and the opposition, or will the common citizen will participate? If it is the latter, who decides which common citizen participates and in what capacity? Is it a one day event? Where will it be held? Will it involve every county? Who chairs the proceedings? Who moderates? When does dialogue end? When people have agreed on the way forward? When there are enough suggestions on how to deal with the problem or when CORD gets what they want? What do they want by the way? Before Raila Odinga came back with the idea of dialogue, what were our options in dealing with the very many issues we had? Are we demanding dialogue because Odinga said so? The idea of national dialogue at the moment is very abstract. The danger of setting a deadline (saba saba) on an idea as abstract as that is that it leads people to draw conclusions. We have heard Kenyans (including some politicians) say that they will have no power-sharing deals, which in my analysis of Raila’s speech and in his own admission, was never on the table. Before calling for a national dialogue and setting a deadline for the same, Raila Odinga should have answered these questions. Made the idea a lot less abstract. Something his advisers should have picked up on.
His Excellency the President Uhuru Kenyatta in a strongly worded, highly emotional speech stated very succinctly that the recent attacks in Mpeketoni were not the work of the Al-Shabab terrorist group but were politically motivated. “The attack in Lamu was well-planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons.” He said, adding that such “dangerous leaders” portray certain people as less human and less deserving. Ever since the statement was made, no political leader has been arrested and arraigned in court. No evidence proving this theory has been provided to Kenyans. Yet the head of state spoke in front of millions of Kenyans and floated a “political motivation” theory. This was incredibly unfortunate. Had there been evidence of political motivation (which there might be), we should know about it. I would be the first one to insist that the perpetrator be put to book. The rest of the Kenyans, from whatever political faction, presented with hard evidence of the political motivation would also stand behind the President on the same. The President’s statement however divided the country even further. 
An analysis of Kenya’s security status would have shown that in a matter of days or weeks after Mpeketoni, something would happen that would put the lives of Kenyans at risk. Indeed, less than a week later, 20 Kenyans lost their lives in Wajir leading people to ask, “Where is the President’s speech condemning these attacks?” This is something that the President’s advisers should have picked up on.
In Kenya’s current political and social climate, decisions on reactions to events such as Mpeketoni and Wajir have to be made incredibly carefully. They should be made with the aim of bringing Kenyans together and not dividing us further. They should be made with the aim of securing the lives of Kenyans and not creating an environment of hate and potential violence. 

Kenyans also need to realize that as much as we put the people we did in power, as much as they are the ones who will create the laws and policies that guide us in our day-to-day living, they will not put food on our tables. We are the ones who suffer by fighting amongst ourselves because of leaders whose only concern is their own security and how much tax-payers money they will take to the bank. It’s time we united as one. As Kenyans regardless of our ethnicity. As citizens of this beautiful country. It is time to stop politicizing the deaths of our fellow Kenyans and work on making our country one that we can all be proud of.