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Published on December 26th, 2012 | by Heba Girgis

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Kenya’s First Openly Gay Politician Faces Funding Issues

By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya—David Kuria, Kenya’s first openly gay politician to run in the country’s election was forced to withdraw from the race. Kuria’s supporters were more than disappointed when he announced that he could not carry out the senate race because of lack of funds. He could not raise enough to cover personal security and logistics of the race. He also received many threatening text messages saying that his candidacy would bring “a curse to the land.”

Kuria, 40, was forced to drop out of the race because of funding issues. (Photo Courtesy of Kenya Today)

Kuria told the Guardian, “It is one of the saddest decisions I have had to make during my years working as a human rights activist. I had seen changes in the way our people in the villages view gay people. For many people gay people and gay rights are perceived though mediated interpretation of politicians and religious leaders. For the first time it was possible to talk with people, answer their questions as well as point out the nexus areas of different forms of marginalization, including poverty and other challenged that affect them, too.”

Kuria, age 40, was the first openly gay person in Africa to run for political office outside of South Africa. His campaign could not go forward after his fundraising campaign raised only 4% of its target. Kuria also never lacked opposition, especially in Kenya’s conservative Christian heartlands. Moses Wetangula, a cabinet minister, noted that if Kuria was elected, a revolt would surely be carried out against the government. Wetangula also said that an openly gay man should not “have an opportunity or privilege to lead a country that is founded on religious morality.”

Under Kenyan law, acts of homosexuality are punishable up to 14 years in jail. In 2011, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission took a survey that revealed that only 18% of LGBT Kenyans had opened up about their sexual orientation to their families and that of these 89% of them had been disowned. Homosexuality is also outlawed in 36 African countries with many politicians finding gay people to be “unafrican.” Kuria addressed this issue, saying, “Again that is one of those stories that have been told over and over again that it has come to be seen as true. But there are also very few public LBBT voices—these need to increase for the narrative to be debunked.”

 

For further information, please see:

Mail and Guardian – Kenya’s First Gay Political Candidate Reveals Why He Quit Race – 26 December 2012

Kenya Today - Kenya’s First Gay Political Candidate Reveals Why He Quit Race – 25 December 2012

The Guardian – Kenya’s First Gay Political Candidate Reveals Why He Quit Race – 25 December 2012

Topix – Kenya’s First Gay Political Candidate Reveals Why He Quit Race – 25 December 2012


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