NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Anti-gay groups in Kenya are campaigning to stop Western-backed “moral deviants” forcing their “unnatural behaviour” on the east African nation, The Star newspaper said on Wednesday.
One of the anti-gay groups, The Save Our Men Initiative, says it is launching a “Zuia Sodom Kabisa” campaign, meaning ‘”prevent Sodom completely” in Swahili, to “save the family, save youth, save Kenya”.
“Homosexuality in Kenya is a serious threat to life, community and our youth in high school, their recruitment hotbed. It must be stopped,” the Save Our Men Initiative said.
“This is about few moral deviants forcing their values and unnatural behavior on the quiet majority with the aid of Western governments who could otherwise be spending their resources in stemming the crisis in Syria and elsewhere,” the group said.
The lobbyists aim to collect a million signatures against homosexuality, to be delivered to parliament and the judiciary during a public march on 5 April.
Homophobia is gaining visibility in east Africa. Last month, Uganda's president signed a law imposing penalties up to life imprisonment for homosexuality, defying protests from rights groups and Western donors.
Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, as in most African countries, and persecution is widespread. Many decry same sex relationships as a Western import and justify their intolerance on religious grounds.
The Save Our Men Initiative said sexual minorities are gaining confidence thanks to the backing of Western governments.
“The support the homosexual community is getting from Western governments like Netherlands and Germany has given homosexuals boldness that borders on intimidation for the few voices of reason that are standing against their onslaught,” the initiative said. “The vocal and incessant support the homosexuals are getting from President Barack Obama of USA is worrying.”
The group implicitly criticised the West for threatening Uganda with “dire consequences” after it banned homosexuality “based on scientific-cultural facts and sound moral considerations”.
The group said homosexuals should not be given space to tell their stories or determine how they are depicted in public.
The one million signature petition aims to prevent Kenya’s constitution being interpreted “in favour of the homosexual community”, the statement said.
Rights groups have said that Kenya’s penal code – introduced by British colonialists in 1930 – is unconstitutional as it clashes with the 2010 Bill of Rights which promotes inclusiveness, equality, freedom, non-discrimination, human dignity, equity and protection of the marginalised.
The penal code says any person “who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is guilty of a felony and can be jailed for 14 years. A male who “commits any act of gross indecency with another male person” can be jailed for up to five years.
No one has ever been prosecuted as police would have to catch someone in the act. But the law makes it easy for police and neighbours to blackmail, harass and kill gays and lesbians.
“The penal code that outlaws homosexuality in Kenya is being flouted by the homosexual society citing the Bill of Rights enshrined in our constitution,” Jasiel Njau of the Save Our Men Initiative said, The Star reported.
The Save the Men Initiative said they have the backing of several groups including the church, professionals and the council of elders of Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu.