A Kenyan government report is perpetuating the false and dangerous belief that homosexuality is a cult-like vice that can be “spread” in schools.
The report was compiled by a committee set up to investigate “unrest” in schools last year. Its members visited 97 schools and interviewed students and teachers between August and November 2016.
According to the Daily Nation, the committee concluded that “most cases of male and female homosexuality reported in secondary schools originated in primary school”.
The document, recently presented to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, “blamed the practice on peer pressure and social groupings” and “established that some of the perpetrators of the incidents were from dysfunctional families”.
The Daily Nation said that the committee also found that lesbian students are “absent-minded, lack concentration in class and are very secretive”.
Other characteristics of “lesbian” students include “girls buying bananas and test tubes for ‘use’ in their dormitories, hostility towards the opposite sex, affection to same gender and possessive friendship”.
They also apparently “write love notes to fellow girls,” behave “like men”, have “funny hairstyles and dress codes,” and engage in “indecent behaviours such as touching other girls’ privates, pairing and constantly being together, sharing beds and holding hands”.
When it comes to boys who are gay, their characteristic are described in the report as: “Share gifts and even beds, discomfort in female company, a feminine character, possession of condoms, possessive friendship, sagging of trousers and they are shy and very friendly.”
The report, unsurprisingly, found that students “who engage in lesbianism and homosexuality” are often suspended, transferred to other schools and referred to boards of management for disciplinary action.
As an indication of the mindset of the committee, the same report also addressed the issue of “devil worship” and concluded that “the problem, both serious and not serious, was in the schools”.
It appears that the committee that drew up the report is not well versed in the basics of human sexuality; conflating childhood experimentation and development with homosexuality and sexual acts with sexual identity.
The report only adds to the widespread belief in Africa that homosexuality is learned deviant behaviour that must be stamped out like some sort of virus. It is also unlikely to make the lives of young LGBT people in Kenya any easier, and could well lead to dangerous witch hunts, as happened, for example, in 2012 and 2016.
Homosexuality is outlawed in Kenya, with penalties including five to 14 years in prison. LGBT expression is also banned by the country’s censors.