An openly-gay man bravely running for a seat in the senate in Kenya, where homosexuality is illegal, has spoken about his campaign and hopes for Africa.
David Kuria, co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), announced last year that he would be leaving the field of LGBTI activism for mainstream politics. He is now standing for senator of Kiambu County in upcoming elections next March.
In an interview with GayStarNews, Kuria, who holds an MBA in International Business from the University of Nairobi, said that his campaign is focused on combating poverty, social empowerment, health and political reform.
“I always had an interest in politics but thought I can’t take part in it as I’m gay, but as I got involved in LGBT activism, I thought, wait, I think it is possible to have this dream,” he said.
Kuria revealed that the fact that he is gay hasn’t been much of an issue thus far. “In my public engagements people do not want to talk about that issue, it is not because they do not know about it, it is because they make a choice not talk about gay issues or about having a ‘gay’ candidate.”
He added: “People are more interested in the agenda, in how different I am from the other candidates that are standing for office.”
Kuria explained that while consensual gay sex is illegal in his country, with penalties including 14 years in jail, this does not prevent him from running for office.
“Being able to run in and of itself is a huge feat. It relates to the new constitution we have in Kenya, where no one can stop me, and that is good, because then we can have a ‘gay face’ in terms of publicity.”
He went on to comment about the state of LGBT equality in Africa: “Africa has some really bad stories: we have what is on-going in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon and other parts of the continent. But you have some cases of hope, like Kenya.
“I think that in as much as we support countries that are having trouble it is also important to support those making progress, because we often forget about them. They can act as springboard from which to help those who are having problems,” said the young politician.
On his slick campaign website, Kuria backs the decriminalisation of homosexuality “because criminalising people in conditions of weakness leads to additional marginalisation furthering the spread of HIV both in their own communities and the general population”.