An LGBT+ group at the largest refugee camp in Kenya had a day full of Pride celebrations in early June. Although it was considered successful, the LGBT+ refugees are now facing death threats if they don’t leave the camp.
The Kakuma Refugee camp is one of the largest camps in the world and houses almost 200 LGBT+ refugees who have fled their home countries due to homophobic and transphobic discrimination.
Refugee Flag Kakuma aims to support and advocate for the LGBT+ community in the Kakuma Refugee camp. Mbazira Moses, the executive director of Refugee Flag Kakuma, organised the first pride celebration at the camp.
Over the course of the day, there was a Pride reception, fashion show, a march and many other events.
Although the celebrations were considered successful, after the event two members of the LGBT+ community were physically assaulted.
“It was successfully attended by 180 of the LGBTIQ refugees and they were joined by many other refugees in the camp who didn’t know about the event. They initially embraced it but later on proved to be violent,” said Moses in an interview with Gay Star News.
According to Moses, the other refugees turned violent and began to yell at the Pride participants, spit at them and attempted to throw dirt at the transgender models.
Security was able to break up the altercation and keep the situation under control.
However, later in the day a group of refugees at the camp allegedly targeted a lesbian and transgender refugee. The lesbian sustained serious lacerations to her heel. The trans woman was punched in the stomach by her attackers and sent to the hospital.
But the violence doesn’t end there.
Days after the Pride event, Refugee Flag Kakuma and LGBT+ refugees are receiving death threats from others at Kakuma. A note was posted on a noticeboard of the camp warning the LGBT+ refugees that if they don’t leave, they will be killed.
“This is to inform all men and women (gays) living in Kakuma,” the note reads. “You have to leave the camp because you have spoiled our children and our religion. If you don’t leave the camp we are going to kill you one by one and we mean it.”
The note ends, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”.
A few days earlier, the LGBT+ refugees had celebrated their visibility but now, they’re living in fear, said Moses.
Many of the refugees come from Uganda where homosexuality once carried a life sentence. LGBT+ people still face violence and persecution.
It is illegal to be gay in Kenya, where the camp is located. Many LGBT+ refugees hope to settle in a country where homosexuality is legal.
The Pride event at Kakuma allowed queer refugees to feel welcome and accepted. Rainbow flags were on display throughout the camp.
“When I saw we are the voice of the voiceless, it is we who have come out to tell people that we are of no harm and we are human beings,” said pride organiser Wamalabashier Gibson.
The violence that has occurred caused many LGBT+ members to fear for their lives. Moses reported that many refused to go in to work. Others might leave the camp for a few days and head to Nairobi until the situation settles down.
Moses also reports that the Pride event cost more than expected and he is now in debt. He was given a deadline of two days to raise 32200KES ($322) to pay his debtors.
If you’re interested in donating or supporting Moses, please contact the Refugee Flag Kakuma Facebook page.
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