David Kuria

The first openly-gay man to run for a seat in the senate in Kenya, where homosexuality is illegal, has dropped out of the race due to a lack of finances and growing security concerns.

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 to stand for senator of Kiambu County in elections in March 2013.

On Monday, however, he dropped the bombshell on his website that he was unable to continue with his campaign.

“I do not think it is possible to run this campaign without adequate security and without resources to cover the logistics of holding meetings in Kiambu County,” said Kuria. “It is with a heavy heart and great sorrow therefore that I wish to announce my withdrawal from the Kiambu County Senate Race.”

He revealed that security had become an issue due to him being openly-gay and that he had been receiving threatening SMSes.

“Although I am sure such messages are from the fringe and do not represent the mainstream, they are very scary and I was faced with the choice of either to invest in security and move from where I live or withdraw from the race’, he told Gay Star News.

“All this has become very costly and stressful, and this is why I have chosen not to carry on.”

Kuria also admitted that he was not getting “anywhere the kind of funding support we had hoped to get from both local and international supporters”.

“To all my supporters in Kiambu, and elsewhere, am sorry for letting you down. Please note, that I would not expose myself in the way I did, if I had not believed deep in my heart, that we could deliver on the change that we need in Kiambu,” said Kuria.

Tendai Terrence, Communications Officer at AMSHeR, an African MSM advocacy group, expressed his disappointment at the news to Identity Kenya.

“I am saddened by the news of David’s withdrawal from candidacy, but I do remain greatly appreciative of the positive impact his campaigning has already had, especially on young LGBTI persons and creating visibility of LGBTI persons and issues in Kenya and Africa.”

He went on to say: “His issues-based campaign has demonstrated that LGBTI persons can and do contribute positively to state-building, and that we should be judged not by our sexualities, but by our ideas, and the value we add to our society and our communities.

“We are as active and valuable contributors to society as anyone else and I applaud David for having owned his sexual identity throughout his candidacy. I have no doubt this has made him a positive role model and reference point for countless young African LGBTI and I am excited at the prospect of more following in his footsteps,” said Terrence.

Kuria, who holds an MBA in International Business from the University of Nairobi, previously said that his campaign was focused on combating poverty, social empowerment, health and political reform.

He was recently awarded for his “Outstanding contribution to Key Populations and HIV” by Kenya’s National Aids Control Council.

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