Socio – Economic and Legal Environment of the Gay Community in Kenya: The Case of Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, Nairobi City County
Ng’ang’a, Emma Wangari
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The purpose of this study was to identify the socio – economic and legal challges facing the LGBTs in Kenya. The research took place at the Gay and Lesbian Colaition of Kenya (GALCK) in Nairobi County which was used as a sampling frame. The organisation is located south – west of Matter Hospital. GALCK was chosen as a case study because of its positon as an umbrella organization that consists of LGBTS and it‘s high number of registered LGBT individuals who hail from different parts of the Country. The objectives of the study included: to identify the social, economic, legal environment of the LGBT community; to document past studies on the causes of LGBT identity and to identify effective strategies that can be used to address the social, economic and legal challenges facing the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Nairobi County. Queer theory was adopted as it was instrumental in the deconstruction of the socially constructed ideology of heterosexuality as being the only form of sexual orienataion and in addition in the desconstruction of labes directed at the LGBTS which facilitatae in their discrimination. A case study design was used. The study adopted both quantitative and qualitative research. The study targeted 1000 individual who were both registered and active members of GALCK. Stratified random sampling was applied to generate a sample size of 278 where a totalof 142 men and 136 women participated in the study. The study identified the following social challenges facing LGBTS: discrimination, unjust or prejudicial treatment, stereotyping, stigmatization, physical, emotional , sexual and verbal abuse. The economic challenges facing the LGBT community were found to be lack of opportunities, losing jobs, being treated unfairly by employers, their sexual orientation acting as a customer push factor in business, that is, a negative aspect that motivates customers to avoid that business. Vices resulting from lack of employment or finances included: prostitution, drug trafficking and theft. The study found that the the lack of recognition and protection in law of LGBTs leave them vulnerable to the violation of their rights, dignity and respect. In addition, law enforcement officials also play a role of abuse and discrimination. This is despite their rightful duty to serve and protect all citizens. The study also found that majority of LGBTs are afraid to report any incidences of violation of their rights to the police due to fear of being arrested and retribution when filing their complaints.Causes of LGBT identity were peer influence, sexual abuse and socialization. Strategies identified to address the LGBT challenges included: awareness creation and sensitization, legal and policy frameworks, providing the or enabling them to undertake income generating activities, health programs and alternatives and guidance and counselling. The study concluded that LGBT issues have failed to be priotized despite the matter being otha development and human rights issue where they have been sidelined for a long period of time by both law and society.There is a failure by the state to protect LGBTs and the failure of the application of human rights for all as per the Constitution where there is selective application. The study recommends an open disussion on the gay community as a development issue and the recognition of their human rights despite their sexual orientation. It also recommends not only a revise of the legal framework but effective implementation of it for redress of violation of LGBT rights and enhance gender equality.