Very good news to report from Kenya. Police in Nairobi have arrested a second man allegedly involved in a notorious scheme that targets gay men for extortion, blackmail, robbery and rape, reports Denis Nzioka at Identity Kenya.
Hillary Oleshawa was arrested by detectives on Monday night in a bar in down-town Nairobi after area police tracked him down for six hours following a tip off from the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. According to NGLHRC, Oleshawa has a history of luring unsuspecting gay men from online sites, abducting them and extorting money and property from their family and friends using threats and violence....
Oleshawa is reported to have been using Facebook and other gay dating sites such as Gay Romeo, Manjam, Gaydar and Gay Kenya to target his victims. His latest victim [alegedly] was a high school student aged 18 was lured into Oleshawa's house in last month, illegally detained , threatened with violence to give access codes to his mobile money account and later threatened to be exposed to his school.
Blackmail and extortion of gay men has become a "lucrative business" for criminals in Kenya, according to several reports. Many gay men are closeted—or married—and are afraid to come forward due to pervasive stigma and security concerns.
Previous reports indicated the extortion gang includes police officers. Nairobi police "have denied reports that one of the blackmailers is a fellow police officer." But after the first arrest was made in February, that suspect reportedly "bribed [police] and was released in unclear circumstances," adds Identity Kenya.
Kenya's government is considered progressive on gay rights. Same-sex relations are illegal—penalties are between five and 14 years’ imprisonment—but arrests and prosecutions are rare. 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.
Kenya was the first African nation to include men who have sex with men in their national HIV strategy. The recently-appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has said that "gay rights are human rights" and expressed a desire to overturn anti-gay legislation. As a result, Kenya has rapidly become a refuge for many LGBTs who have been persecuted in East African nations.
See our report for EBONY: "Can Kenya Lead Africa Forward on Gay Rights?"
Some Background ...
Can Kenya Lead Africa on Gay Rights? [EBONY]
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KENYA: Police Investigate Extortion of Gay Men
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