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LGBT+ activists attacked on peaceful march in Kenya refugee camp

Ella Braidwood December 13, 2018
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LGBT+ activists were attacked and arrested by police after staging a peaceful march through Kakuma, a UNCHR refugee camp in Turkana County, Kenya.

Around 40 LGBT+ activists took part in the march on Tuesday (December 11) through the camp to protest against poor conditions, inadequate healthcare, and discrimination.

A member of Refugee Flag Kakuma, which campaigns for the rights of LGBT+ refugees in Kakuma, alleged to PinkNews that the marchers were first attacked by the local community and then by police.

LGBT+ campaigners at the march in Kakum
LGBT+ campaigners at the march in Kakuma. (Refugee Flag Kakuma/Refugee Coalition of East Africa)

“The attack was started by the host community and then the police joined them,” they said.

Images sent to PinkNews show a number of LGBT+ refugees from the camp covered in blood after sustaining head injuries. Warning: Some of the images below might be distressing to some readers.

LGBT+ activists beaten and detained by police in Kakuma, Kenya

The Refugee Flag Kakuma member said that “several” LGBT+ activists were injured, before being arrested by police.

“The reasons to why we decided to March to the UNHCR compound are [because of the] problems we face in the community,” the Refugee Flag Kakuma member told PinkNews.

“When we try to ask for help from UNHCR they don’t respond to us.”

LGBT+ activists attacked in Kakuma, Kenya
LGBT+ activists were attacked during a march through Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. (Refugee Flag Kakuma/Refugee Coalition of East Africa)

The member said LGBT+ asylum seekers in the camp face “homophobia [from] our fellow refugees.”

They added: “[There are] poor medical services, poor shelter.

“Most of our house are down and UNHCR doesn’t want to renovate them.”

An LGBT+ activist injured with bloody foot in Kakuma Kenya
An LGBT+ refugee injured at the march through Kakuma. (Refugee Flag Kakuma/Refugee Coalition of East Africa)

LGBT+ refugees in Kakuma face homophobic and transphobic discrimination

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Kakuma refugee camp, which has a population of around 185,000, was set up in 1969 and is mostly inhabited by refugees who fled from the civil war in South Sudan.

“Such brutality toward us, the LGBTQI refugees in Kenya, is far too common.”

—A spokesperson from The Refugee Coalition of East Africa

The LGBT+ refugees marched to the UNCHR offices in Kakuma, handing over a petition with a list of demands.

Refugee Flag Kakuma said that all the LGBT+ refugees that had been arrested were released on Tuesday evening.

LGBT+ activists were attacked in Kakuma Kenya
LGBT+ refugees marching through Kakuma. (Refugee Flag Kakuma/Refugee Coalition of East Africa)

A spokesperson from The Refugee Coalition of East Africa, an umbrella organisation for LGBT+ refugee groups in east Africa, said that violent acts against LGBT+ people are commonplace in Kenya.

“We strongly condemn these acts of violence against our fellow LGBTQI refugees and urge the UNHCR to take immediate action,” the spokesperson told PinkNews.

“Such brutality toward us, the LGBTQI refugees in Kenya, is far too common.

“It is the hope of RefCEA that the world will begin to take notice, that the UNHCR will provide and/or increase much needed protection and services, and that foreign governments will recognize the urgent and dangerous conditions and provide emergency and swift asylum to members of this population.”

Related topics: Africa, attacked, Kakuma, Kenya, Kenya, lgbt activists, refugee camp

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