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Kenyan Gays in State of Panic

Kenyan Gays in State of Panic


A recent call for the arrest of all gay and lesbian people by Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga has confused and worried the LGBT community of the African country.

Odinga spoke Sunday at a rally in Kibera and told listeners that all gay men and lesbians would be subject to laws in the new constitution that criminalize homosexuality. The new bill of rights in Kenya prohibits discrimination on any grounds, according to Voice of America, and the remarks have vexed and worried activists like Nguru Karugu of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya.

"Karugu said the Coalition is asking for clarification of the statements made by the prime minister, which he described as 'out of left field.' Gay and Lesbian issues have been a relatively untouched subject in Kenyan politics during the tenure of President Mwai Kibaki," reports VOA.

"The Prime Minister has similarly had relatively little involvement in the issue, but the coalition said his comments were detrimental to the country's fight against HIV and AIDS. Kenya's National AIDS Control Council has recently moved to include gay and lesbian outreach in its fight against AIDS. In January, the prime minister attended and helped launch the group's 2010 Strategic Plan -- the first that promised to work with homosexuals and other high-risk groups."

The prime minister's office has said the remarks were "off the cuff" and did not indicate a shift in government policy.

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Julie Bolcer