A group of MSM in Mombasa this morning sustained injuries while escaping from
an angry crowd of religious leaders and homophobes who barged into a meeting
they were attending.

The meeting had been organised by the Kenya Aids NGO Consortium (Kanco) and
the invasion seems to have been arranged to flush out the MSM (men who have sex
with men) who were in attendance.

Mombasa is Kenya's second largest city after the capital Nairobi and lies on
the Indian Ocean coast.

Kanco was carrying out a HIV/Aids Peer Education training that began at the
Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre on Monday, February 20 and was set end today,
Thursday, February 23. Peer Education is an approach to health promotion, in
which community members are supported to promote health-enhancing change among
their peers.

Kanco had invited the MSM community to participate in the training and 24
members of the community were present during the attack.

Reports monitored by Behind the Mask in Nairobi say that residents barged in
accusing the participants of "promoting homosexuality in the community."

Angry youth surrounded the meeting area and the participants had no choice but
to flee for their lives.

One participant who sought anonymity spoke to BTM on phone about the incident
saying, "The community attacked us while we were learning about prevention,
care and treatment methods on HIV/Aids interventions. They accused us of
promoting homosexuality. There were no security measures to protect us so
everyone fled for their lives."

He added, "We climbed the roof, I cut my hand as I leapt out on the corrugated
iron sheet. Someone broke a finger, some are bleeding. We all fled in different

It has been reported that when the attack seemed imminent, the venue
attendants asked the participants to leave so as not to risk vandalism to their
libraries and computer equipment. This left the MSM vulnerable to the wrath of
the angry crowds.

A Kanco official who preferred to remain unnamed said in a telephone
interview, "We have been carrying out this training in a space [which is] used
to hold youth meetings. But I believe that because this is a small community,
perhaps word got out [about who was attending] and that is what may have
jeopardised this meeting."

The official added, "All the trainees are safe now and the training will
continue at a different venue due to security reasons."

Esther an activist from the Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved-Kenya (Pema-
Kenya) organisation said, "We were not aware of this training, in fact I heard
about it yesterday. Had we known, we would have advised Kanco not to have a
meeting in Likoni. Before we could get the opportunity to advise those
participating, we heard that they had been attacked."

For LGBTI activists however, the most worrying issue currently is the fact
that one of the participants was followed to his home and captured on camera by
representatives of a number of media houses.

Participants are very concerned about his safety and the fact that the press
outed (disclosed his sexual orientation without his consent) him and gave away
the location of his home.

Pema has now indicated that they have moved into emergency safety procedure
mode in order to secure those who may be under further attack.

Esther from Pema said, "The security of those under threat need to be dealt
with swiftly, we will send those exposed to media to a safe house till further
notice. I hope we can learn from this and ensure that we have a safe house near
Mombasa so as to protect threatened activists."

She added, "The situation is grave and I will be discussing the way forward
with Kanco to ensure the safety of all the MSM who participated."


Pubblicato da Lorenzo Bernini