The mother of a lesbian woman in Kenya has called for an end to the stigma and discrimination her daughter is forced to endure simply because she loves women.
Published in The Star newspaper, the letter by “concerned parent” comes in the wake of recent court hearings challenging the constitutionality of the county’s colonial era criminalisation of homosexuality.
In the letter, the proud mom writes about how her 27-year-old daughter has grown to become “a funny and hardworking person” who “cares deeply for her family, but also for others around her”.
She point out, however, that “despite being such a generous, articulate and determined young woman, who spends so much time helping others, Kenyan law dictates that my daughter is a second-class citizen. That is because she happens to love women and not men.”
The woman opens up about when her daughter first came out to her. “My initial reaction was fear and panic. Like many parents I asked myself: Was this a reaction to something I did wrong? Could I have prevented this? Although I had never been opposed to gay people, I knew of the discrimination and violence they face. Suddenly, these stigmas were going to impact my family directly. I was worried.
“Thankfully I soon realised that nothing had changed and my daughter was still the same person as she was before. But as a mother, my worries for her safety and security continue to this day. Currently our country’s Penal Code is used to allow for and enable discrimination and violence towards people like my daughter.”
The mom continues: “Since learning that my daughter is a lesbian, I have discovered that the vast majority of gay people are nothing like the stereotypes. I would encourage anyone who feels comfortable to learn more about LGBT people and see for themselves that, far from being troubled sinners, they are just like us.”
She goes on to call on people to support the case against criminalisation, writing that, “it invites another opportunity to contemplate the kind of country that we want Kenya to be.
“Do we continue to fuel prejudice and use the law to target a group of people we do not agree with? Or do we begin to treat everyone, even people who seem different from us or with whom we disagree, with the same level of dignity and respect?”
The concerned mom concludes with: “As a mother who loves her child more than anything in the world, I ask the judges presiding over this case to uphold the Constitution and bring us one step closer to a Kenya that keeps my daughter and people like her safe and free from discrimination.”
The Kenyan National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) says it has recorded over 1,000 incidents of violations against LGBT people since 2014, including murder, mob violence, rape, blackmail and extortion.
The organisation is one of the groups that petitioned Kenya’s High Court last month to strike down sections of the Penal Code that criminalise consensual same-sex relations between adults with up to 14 years in prison. They argue that the laws violate the constitutional rights to privacy, dignity, health, equality and non discrimination as well as the right to freedom and security.
The court is expected to confirm in late April when it will announce a ruling in the potentially groundbreaking case.