The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya has opposed alleged attempts by some government agencies and non-governmental organisations to promote gay, lesbians and prostitutes’ rights in the country. The council yesterday said although they do not consider lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgenders as criminals, promoting their rights contravenes the Constitution.
CIPK organising secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said same-sex unions breach societal and ethics, thus such activities should not be handled in a manner suggesting that the government supports homosexuality. “We will not accept any attempts by some groups to advocate for gay, lesbians and prostitutes rights here in Mombasa,” he said.
Khalifa remarks come a day after more than 40 gays who were training on safe sex graduated at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Mtwapa. He hit out at the provincial administration and religious leaders who trained together with the gays, saying homosexuality and prostitution is prohibited by African beliefs, Islamic and Christian teachings.
“CIPK remains opposed to any attempts to promote these practices as they are sinful according to God. We believe what gays need is counselling and assistance to change their behaviour and not to tell them how they can do it safely,” he said. Khalifa accused Kemri, National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP), the civil societies of provoking Kenyans by advocating for gay rights without putting into considerations African beliefs and morals of Christians and other religions groups who remain opposed to homosexuality.
But in a swift rejoinder, Lawrence Wambua, co-ordinator of Usawa Kwa Wote Initiative, an NGO that has been advocating for gay rights in Coast region, urged religious leaders to stop living in denial and accept that gays are part of the wider society. Wambua said gay people will continue to fight for recognition of their rights despite efforts by a section of the society to criminalise their behaviour.
“Gay people have the right to health services, and protection, among others freedoms, which are protected in the Constitution and nobody can take it away from them,” he said. Wambua defended Kemri and Nascop, saying they were not engaged in promotion of gay rights but promotion of health services among the “Most At Risk Populations” in the fight against spread of HIV/Aids.
KEMRI project director Dr. Edward Sanders said the organisation was involved in Aids vaccine research and was working with all stakeholders in the fight against the virus. Gays who graduated on Tuesday were awarded with certificates of participation. They were trained on safe sex and how to sensitise the society to accept them and their lifestyles. - By MURIMI MUTIGA