June is Pride Month! It’s a time for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to celebrate each other and the huge strides that have been made around the world toward social acceptance and equal treatment under the law. However, sexuality is still a sensitive topic. A lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about it, and many aren’t open or understanding when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. So, we thought it would be helpful to take a moment to share some basic information. Whether you’re queer, questioning, know someone who is, or just want to learn more, scroll down to learn about the LGBTQ+ resources available to you!
While scientists don’t know exactly what makes someone LGBTQ+, you should know that they do agree that sexual orientation isn’t a choice. Genes, hormones, and a mother’s womb all contribute to a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Put simply: you’re born with it. Which also means that a straight person can’t turn gay, and a gay person can’t turn straight.
A lack of social acceptance and fewer legal protections means LGBTQ+ people suffer from more health issues than people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+. For example, they’re more likely to feel depressed and have thoughts of suicide. They’re also less likely to seek out health care, and have less access to important health information and services. That’s why, if you’re LGBTQ+, it’s important to know what LGBTQ+-friendly resources are available where you live. Because you deserve the help you need, when you need it!
The Law in Kenya
Identification documents can be legally changed to reflect gender identity
Homosexuals can serve in the military
Same-sex marriage is illegal
Conversion therapy is legal
Consensual, same-sex sexual activity (public or private) between two men are illegal, and punishable by imprisonment
Homosexuals cannot adopt children
There are no laws protecting transgender rights
There are few legal protections against LGBTQ+ discrimination
Get Help & Learn More
Amkeni Malindi: A LGBTQ+ service and support organization based in Malindi, Kilifi County. They promote quality and healthy living for marginalized sexual minorities and male sex workers through health promotion and service delivery, social and economic empowerment efforts, and research and advocacy aimed at policy reforms.
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya: The national SOGIE umbrella body, representing LGBQ voices across Kenya. Membership allows LGBTQ+ organizations to lean on each other and strengthen the coalition’s overall capacity to provide comprehensive, rights-based services to capacity-building, positive visibility, and stigma reduction.
Hapa Kenya: An organization working to address the health needs of men who have sex with men living with HIV/AIDS in Mombasa.
Ishtar: A community-based organization working to reduce the stigma and advance the health rights of men who have sex with men in Kenya. They host safe-sex workshops, provide individual and couples counseling, distribute healthcare products, organize support groups...and a whole lot more!
Gay Kenya Trust: A human rights and media advocacy organization for LGB persons working toward reducing discriminatory policies and practices in Kenya. Their ultimate goal is a society that does not define and/or discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation.
National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission: An organization fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya. They pursue legal reforms toward equality through legal clinics and research, promote freedom of expression through online and in-person events and activities, and encourage political and civic participation of LGBTQ+ individuals and communities through lobbying and civic education.
Outright Action International - Kenya: An international organization committed to LGBTQ+ advocacy and research. They fight for the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons everywhere alongside other local and international organizations, and monitor LGBTQ+ laws in each of the countries in which they operate.
PEMA Kenya: An organization advancing the human rights of gender and sexual minorities in Mombasa. They host community events and activities and work with police, religious leaders, media, healthcare providers, and advocates of the High Court of Kenya to reduce violence and discrimination towards gender and sexual minorities.
Q-Initiative: A registered community-based organization working on health, human rights promotion, safety and security, capacity building, and economic empowerment of LGBTQ persons in the Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties.
Rainbow Women of Kenya: A human rights organization that works towards the advancement of legal, health and socioeconomic rights of gender and sexual minority women in the coastal region of Kenya.
The Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA): An international organization defending and promoting the human rights of transgender/transsexual people.
Do you know of any other LGBTQ+ resources, communities, or events in Kenya? Share them with us in the comment section below! And, if you have other questions about sex, STIs, and contraception, remember you can chat with Nivi on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger any time. It’s private, confidential, and free!