Fear as Kenyan tabloid outs “top gays”


Pic: Denis Nzioka

In an appalling display of unethical and dangerous journalism, a Kenyan tabloid has published a list of the country’s so-called “top” homosexuals.

The May 10 edition of Weekly Citizen, which describes itself as “Kenya’s most authoritative political newspaper”, featured a front page article titled Top gays, lesbians list in Kenya out.

The sensationalistic piece includes names and photos of a number of individuals who the newspaper claims are gay or lesbian.

“Homosexuality and lesbianism are slowly taking root in Kenya. It was initially in boarding schools, prisons but now has found its way in churches and other institution including blue chip companies and even among sportsmen and women,” the article warns.

The list, which includes LGBT activists like Dennis Nzioka and Eric Gitari, also features a number of people who are not out. Among those named are politicians, a radio presenter, journalists, a “reformed” gospel singer, and a well-known businessman.

The article not only list individuals, but also includes the address of a nightclub said to be popular with gays and lesbians.

Gay sex is illegal in Kenya with penalties of between five to 14 years’ imprisonment. Those named could face discrimination, imprisonment or violence because of speculation about their sexuality.

“The fact that our names and photos have been published is reason to worry. It is now easy to identify, target and track those mentioned in the paper,” Nzioka told Mambaonline.

The topic of homosexually has been in the headlines in Kenya of late following a Nairobi High Court ruling last month ordering the government to register an LGBTI organisation.

It also ruled that the Kenyan Constitution protects the rights of “every person” – including gays and lesbians.

Nzioka believes that the article and the ruling are not unconnected. “Why did this list surface at a time when there is public opinion and ongoing debate on the ruling? Sinister, isn’t it?” he asked.

Conservative politicians, religious leaders, including William Ruto, Kenya’s Deputy President, have lashed out at the ruling. They’ve hysterically warned that the country’s morals and African values are now threatened.

Some, such as Senator Emma Mbura, have even called for the Constitution to be changed because “it recognises the rights of minorities.”

Last week, Methodist Bishop Douglas Machafu told congregants that the ruling would lead to the legalisation of same-sex relationships.

“Let’s be careful brethren, once the door is open the devil will take over and these people will even force churches to wed them,” he said, reported The Star.

Nzioka admitted that he’s worried about the negative response to the ruling and the consequences of the article. “At the moment, we have issued an alert to our community members to be safe,” he said.

“Frankly, they won’t attack us ‘out and proud and public’ gays but our community members who are suspected or perceived to be gay, feminine men or butch lesbians [may be in danger],” he explained.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend