A Pride festival is set to take place for the first time in one of the most infamous and homophobic refugee camps in the world.
Kakuma refugee camp is the third largest of its kind in the world, housing over 185,000 refugees.
They became the first refugee camp in the world to host a TEDx event last week.
There are about 200 members of the camp who openly identify as LGBT+ and many of them from neighbouring Uganda who fled their country as the government try and introduce a new ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill.
The LGBT+ community in Kakuma have faced an onslaught of violence and death threats over the years, but organisers are hopeful that the Pride festival will help raise awareness for the community.
Mbazira Moses, executive director of Rainbow Flag Kakuma spoke to Gay Star News about his fellow refugees labelling the LGBT+ community as ‘demonic’:
“We have been at refugee day celebrations as LGBTIQ refugees in the past but without being clear that it’s also pride celebrations due to the fear of threats and intimidation from homophobes and heterosexual refugees,” he told Gay Star News.
“But in Kakuma camp, this year with courage and security promised by security organisations we decided to be clear with an aim of letting the people around the camp know that we are of no harm, we are human like any of them and also to promote unity amongst us as LGBTI refugees.”
The day of celebration is planned for June 16 and will consist of sporting events in the morning and a fashion parade and lip-sync performances in the afternoon.
Moses has sent invitations to all organisations and agencies within Kakuma such as UN Refugee Agency and World Vision Kenya.
A Christian organisation which resides in the section of the camp where most LGBT+ refugees live has flatly rejected Moses’ invitation because they do not wish to be associated with “demonic issues”.
According to Moses, the staff told him: “we received your invitation letter to your refugee day/Pride celebrations but we sat at the officers in charge and we looked into our objectives, terms and conditions, right from our headquarters. We do not assist or engage in any activities to deal with LGBTIQ refugees, being that we are Christians and our organization doesn’t need to associate with any demonic issues. Vacate our premises in 15 seconds and never come back here”.
“Such a statement left us worried, desperate and disrespected, denied rights and discomforted spiritually, and emotionally,” Moses said.
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