They are first human beings then LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ community

Supporters of the LGBTQ+ community at the High Court on Friday, May 24, 2019.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The recent Supreme Court’s ruling that the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya can register an association has elicited myriad outbursts with most netizens livid with the apex bench. But this bitter-sweet victory for the community comes at a steep cost: Catfishing of lesbians and gays in social media sites is rife, where potential catches are lured by suggestive videos and intimate pictures only to be harassed or beaten to a pulp or even killed.

Most African leaders have outright derision for and decriminalisation of gay and lesbians. Section 162 of the Constitution of Kenya makes homosexuality and other acts deemed as “unnatural” punishable by law. A petition to stamp out the pre-colonial Penal Code was rejected in 2019. And now, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma has fronted a bill in the National Assembly on legislation against the registration, terming it as an imposition by Western countries.

In neighbouring Uganda, the war on homosexuality is more pronounced; those caught engaging in homosexual acts face life imprisonment. Hardliners term it as a cancer destroying society. It is even more vicious in the right-wing-ruled eastern European Poland as several places declare themselves “LGBT-free” and a section of its people term it as a “boogieman conspiracy”.

It is explanable why members of the group are vulnerable to mental ill-health. Hate crimes, extortion, blackmail and intimidation have been valiantly applied to infringe on their human rights. The atrocities are obscured by an unruly hatred and tucked conservative culture inflamed by political rhetoric. Yet while our cultural values and religious beliefs, and the law, are against the engagements by the movement, we are still bound to each other as people.

Human life is sacrosanct and inviolate; our benign values are what defines us and selectively harming people because of their sexual orientation should not be tolerated.

Mr Maina is a media and communications student at Maseno University. [email protected].