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Updates on Continuing Anti-Gay Pogrom in Kenya – By Paul Canning | by GWB-
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Updates on Continuing Anti-Gay Pogrom in Kenya – By Paul Canning

A Mombasa mob demonstrates the influence of Muslim imams in sparking anti-gay hysteria (


Updates on Continuing Anti-Gay Pogrom in Kenya – By Paul Canning


By Paul Canning – LGBT Asylum News


* Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirms pogrom fears, writes demanding action from Kenyan authorities

* Six gay men released from police custody, told to leave the region

* HRW say no arrests for homosexual offences made

* Mob attacks spread to Mombasa from nearby towns

* Local politicians closely involved in attempted pogrom

* Public continue to identify gay men, police arrest them

* More reports of media incitement role

* Anti-gay forces plan further attacks


The HRW letter, organised by Dipika Nath, researcher in the LGBT rights program, details the investigations carried out by local human rights bodies and backs the account of events first circulated by Kenyan gay groups in the immediate aftermath of the attempted pogrom.

HRW say that events began with in late January with unsubstantiated rumours about a “gay wedding” scheduled for February 12 (other reports say it was a joke made in a barbers). Radio stations discussed the rumour then on February 7 several imams and muftis (Islamic scholars) told their congregations during Friday prayers to be vigilant and to “expose” homosexuals in Mtwapa, a town north of Mombasa.


On February 11 Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and Bishop Lawrence Chai of the National Council of Churches of Kenya held a news conference.


As reported by Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation and confirmed by other witnesses who spoke to HRW, they demanded an investigation of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Mtwapa, a government health center that provides HIV/AIDS services. They criticized the government for “providing counselling services to these criminals” and demanded that the KEMRI office be shut down.


In a statement after the meeting, the religious leaders promised to “flush out gays”, local activists told HRW.


The next day an armed mob of 200 to 300 people, which HRW say appeared planned rather than spontaneous, surrounded the KEMRI health center. HRW say that a KEMRI staff member was pointed out as homosexual because he wore a T-shirt promoting safer sex and arrested, the report from local gay groups say the T-shirt had a pink triangle on it (the symbol worn by gays in Nazi death camps).


The mob continued to pull two people from a home and beat senseless another man who was approaching the health center and was about to set him on fire when the police arrived and took him into custody as well. Others went to the homes of gays and threatened them.


Local activists told HRW that none of the men were charged and they have all since been released, and that the police were attempting to protect them from violence by taking them into custody. However HRW says that the men were asked to submit to forensic examinations to determine if they are homosexual. Five of them refused and the sixth consented and was examined, although no “evidence” of homosexuality is reported to have been found.




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Taken on February 19, 2010