[One] organisation, which last year alone looked after 67 LGBT cases in Kenya, did not want to be named for fear of endangering its refugees. Some have fled a strict application of Islamic law in Somalia, others are running from general sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and yet others have fled a climate of growing hostility elsewhere in east Africa. Some hope to be able to find refuge in Western countries sympathetic to their plight, such as the United States. ...
LGBT refugees are in a particularly difficult position, said the official from the programme that helps them. They cannot return home where their lives are in danger. Nor can they settle in Kenya, where refugees are not allowed to work and where homosexuality is also illegal. The only solution is often to head to a third country.
[This] NGO has over the past several years tried to make humanitarian organisations aware of the extent of the problem. "It's a very slow process, people are very reluctant to take care of LBGT refugees as such. They feel other priorities are more important."
In particular, a number of gay men and transgender women from neighboring Uganda have found refuge in Canada. Here's just one case:
"I was watching a film when I heard a lot of noise," said well-built 24-year-old John. "People had broken into my place, armed with stones, sticks and machetes." John, who was on his way to his boyfriend's home, fled when he saw the attackers. "To me he was dead," he remembers thinking of his partner.
Paul owes his life to the intervention of the police, who however immediately jailed him. "I was physically abused, beaten, bleeding from everywhere," he recounted with difficulty.
His friend David Kato, a gay activist, intervened to get him freed. [Kato] was brutally murdered just over a year ago, found bludgeoned to death at home outside Kampala on January 26, 2011.
Kenya's government is considered moderate on gay rights. Same-sex relations are illegal but arrests and prosecutions are rare. Kenya was 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. Last November, Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the mass arrests of gays at a political rally but later retracted his statements.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
Some Background ...
UN Chief Urges African Leaders to Respect Gays
KENYA: Pro-LGBT Justices Confirmed
Controversy in Kenya After Pro LGBT Nominees
Kenyan Prime Minister: "All Gays Should Be Arrested"
KENYA: Questions Surround Mandatory HIV Testing
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"