The following is a summary of LGBT groups operating in Kenya in 2007.
Diverse Outing, Nairobi, Kenya
Diverse Outing is listed on the public website of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya: “We are a gay and lesbian organization working with the same in the peri-urban areas of Nairobi. Diverse Outing strives to offer medical support through its own physician to its members. Diverse Outing has a mission to inculcate a culture of acceptance of gays and lesbians in our society, without which we cannot grow. We have a membership of 20 persons and intend to surpass this. Diverse Outing has undertaken to create
HIV/AIDS awareness in its area of operation which is primarily Kangemi (a slum area in Nairobi’s catchments).”
Equality Now! Development Group, Kisumu City, Kenya
Registered as an HIV/AIDS organization, the majority of members are graduate and postgraduate students at universities in Western Kenya. The group is focused on human rights, rights of access to healthcare and treatment, and education on HIV/AIDS.
Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), Nairobi, Kenya
GALCK is a coalition of eight LGBT organizations within Kenya. It has received capacity building support from Liverpool VCT (see description below) and Queer Solidarity (Norway). GALCK undertook its first activities on World AIDS Day in 2006 and soon followed with two presentations related to LGBT issues at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi. GALCK also hosted the “Q spot” (a tent set up as a safe space at the WSF for those interested in LGBT issues.) The Q spot held poetry readings, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, and offered support, counseling, and HIV testing.
Gay Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
Founded in 2004, Gay Kenya is now registered with the Kenyan government as Kenya Gay and Lesbian Trust (KEGALE) making it the first-ever LGBT group to be officially registered in Kenya. An active member of GALCK, it participated in a World AIDS Day march and continues to work “to bring together likeminded people to address acceptance, stigma, and HIV among men who have sex with men.” The group’s primary focus is the maintenance of a website for use as an advocacy tool and a safe space for LGBT persons (http://www.gaykenya.com). Due to an overwhelming number of online visitors after the World Social Forum, the site crashed, but it is anticipated to be back up by December 2007.
Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgendered (GALEBITRA), Nairobi, Kenya
GALEBITRA works within government bodies to increase the visibility of LGBT communities, gather political support for legal reforms, and provide sexual health and rights training for LGBT in Kenya. With funding from the Ford Foundation, GALEBITRA distributed the “MSM Sexual Health Survey Report” in 2005, which made several recommendations for meeting the health needs of MSM in Kenya.
International Center for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRH), Mombassa, Kenya
Headquartered at the University of Gant in Belgium, ICRH has an office based in Mombassa which undertakes clinical trials focused on HIV prevention and treatment, along with some operational activities. ICRH has established men who have sex with men (MSM) drop-in center and trained 40 MSM sex workers as peer educators. The peer educators are organized into four zones, each of which has a leader trained in counseling. The educators conduct home visits, provide Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT), and distribute condoms and lube to 77 “hot spots.” The Population Council recently funded ICRH to conduct a study of MSM sex workers in Mombassa. An abstract of this report is available at:
Ishtar, Nairobi, Kenya
Established in 1997, Ishtar works with MSM, many of whom are male sex workers and transgender persons. Ishtar is well connected with the populations it serves, and its effective communications network has made it a tremendous resource for research, which it supports wholeheartedly. It is registered as a community-based organization (CBO), even though the organization is not “openly” gay, and includes over 300 members. The group is a member of GALCK and partners with the University of Nairobi, Liverpool VCT, and Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI). Ishtar’s mission is to improve the sexual health of MSM and reduce stigma and discrimination against them. It refers to its members to KAVI health facilities for AIDS treatment, free testing, and other health services, and provides education about HIV/AIDS prevention.
Liverpool Volunteer Care and Treatment (LVCT), Nairobi, Kenya
LVCT uses a public health approach to shape its service delivery, research, and policy reform activities. LVCT’s programs and activities encompass a wide range of populations including: MSM, rape survivors, hearing impaired persons, and youth. Activities include training of HIV counselors; technical support on how to move policy change forward for vulnerable groups; and capacity building of government entities to improve their service delivery and information dissemination related to vulnerable groups. LVCT has strategically placed itself within government policy committees in order to have influence over the Kenya National AIDS Strategic Plan. LVCT’s advocacy resulted in the identification of MSM as a “vulnerable group” within the plan. It has developed a manual for MSM and a five-day training for MSM service providers.
Minority Women in Action (MWA), Nairobi, Kenya
MWA started in 2006 as a club for women that provided a safe social space and organized weekly movie nights. It is now registered with authorities as a CBO and has 17 registered members and a list of about 30 women who benefit from the organization’s services. MWA is the only organization in Kenya that works to empower lesbian and bisexual women through weekly meetings or workshops, sports activities, such as basketball games, and camps. The organization is very active in GALCK and does most of its political work through the coalition. MWA leaders have been some of the most prominent voices of GALCK in Kenyan media during and following the World Social Forum.
TOMIK, Nairobi, Kenya
TOMIK is a social network that primarily conducts behind-the-scenes advocacy work with a focus on the decriminalization of homosexuality. Comprised of professionals such as journalists and lawyers, TOMIK is also open to training other professionals, including doctors and human rights defenders, for the benefit of LGBT persons.