A cover story in Kenya’s Citizen Weekly outed 12 LGBT activists, many of whom were still closeted in both their private and public lives.
Homosexuality is both illegal and culturally taboo in Kenya, and since paper touted its “Top gay, lesbians list” with photos and names, the subjects of the expose are fearful of arrest and/or violence.
Sex acts between men can carry a prison sentence of up to 21 years. And while sex between women is not specifically mentioned in legal statutes, the gender-neutral term “person” in Section 162 of the Penal Code can be interpreted to include women, as well.
“If homophobes were looking to target people, if the police were looking to arrest people, if anti-gay youths were looking to attack some teen they assume is gay, they now have a face and a name,” Denis Nzioka, who is already out, told Gay Star News.
Unlike similar stories from the past, the article does not call for violence against those out, but rather focuses on a recent declaration from the high court that the government cannot keep LGBT groups from registering.
Still, Nzioka warns, “We are now walking targets. While some of the people on the list are open about being gay, some are not. It is putting every person’s career, life and family at risk.”
He and fellow activist Eric Gitari are contacting those outed to try and ensure their safety, and are considering filing suit against the paper for endangering the activists.