Kenya has said that it will carry out a census of its gay citizens despite homosexuality carrying a penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.
The BBC reports that it has been told by the head of Kenya’s Aids prevention programme, Nicholas Muraguri, that the census is necessary to assess the needs of the country’s LGBT community when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
Activists and gay Kenyans have, however, questioned the logic of attempting to count the gay population of Kenya when individuals could be prosecuted if they come forward as gay.
“Kenyans cannot actually afford to say that the gay community are isolated somewhere in the corner – they are part of our lives,” Muraguri told the BBC’s Network Africa programme, although admitting that an accurate count was unrealistic.
Speaking to Kenya’s Capital News, Nguru Kiragu, executive director of the Public Health Innovations NGO, said that it is time that Kenyans come to accept gays and lesbians.
“There is evidence that same sex relationships are present. It affects the society because some of them are in relationships and are at risk of HIV or spreading it,” he said.
It is unclear if the survey, which is reportedly set to kick off in June next year, will allow individuals to remain anonymous.
Consenting sex between adult men, referred to as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”, is illegal under sections 162 to 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code and carries a penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. “Attempted” gay sex can be punished with five years of jail time.