Blackmail and extortion of gay men has become a "lucrative business" for criminals and some law enforcement officers in Kenya.
Human rights activist and attorney Monica Mbaru says most cases go unreported, but there have been three confirmed cases since September 2010. The latest incident occurred this month in Nairobi. A 33-year-old gay man was charged with sodomy and subjected to a humiliating "anal exam" after he refused to pay a bribe to police officers, reports Behind the Mask.
The police arrested Chad, bundled him into the car and drove past three police stations before taking him to ... a town outside Nairobi. Chad learnt he was being accused of sodomising his guest and the police wanted a bribe of Sh50,000 (about US$500) to make the accusations “go away.” The pestering and harassment made Chad feel that he had no choice in the matter and he reluctantly agreed to look for the money.
It was at this point he rang me to request that I witness an agreement for him that involved money. Once I realised that he was in a police station and the nature of the agreement, I came to his aid as his position was clearly illegal. When the police realised that Chad now had a lawyer they reduced the bribe to Sh5,000 (US$50), which we declined.
Since we refused to pay the extortion fee, my client was taken into custody for two days and then we managed to post a Sh20,000 (US$200) cash bail for his release.
He was charged and the magistrate ordered that Chad be subjected to an anal exam. The Kenyan Sexual offences act, allows for an anal exam if the accused is suspected to have infected someone with a venereal disease.
Chad was eventually released on bail. The next hearing will reportedly take place in two months.
Kenya's government is considered moderate on gay rights. They were the first African nation to include gay and bisexual men in their national HIV strategy. Two pro-LGBT justices were confirmed to the Supreme Court in June.
But there has been a backlash against calls to decriminalize homosexuality in the East African nation, such as one cabinet minister's proposal to scrap the nation's sodomy laws. Last November, Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the mass arrests of gays at a political rally but later retracted his statements.
Some Background ...
Controversy in Kenya After Pro LGBT Nominees
Kenyan Prime Minister: "All Gays Should Be Arrested"
AIDS 2010: Joel Nana on African Gay/Bi Men, HIV
WATCH: CNN Surveys Gay Rights in SA, Kenya, Cuba
Kenyan Gays Demand Protection After Brutal Assault
Kenya: "Things are Changing in Favor of Gays"
Homosexuality is Un-African?