UNHCR Briefing Note - LGBTIQ+ Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Kenya, dated October 2022
This briefing note provides an overview of UNHCR Kenya’s efforts to improve the overall protection environment for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) refugees in Kenya, including how we work with the Government of Kenya and partners to address their concerns and work towards identifying lasting solutions for them.
There are currently some 800 refugees in Kenya who have sought international protection because
of persecution based on their LGBTIQ+ profile, with many living in the refugee camps in Kakuma
and Dadaab. Individuals with an LGBTIQ+ profile have also sought asylum on other protection
grounds. In line with global commitments, UNHCR continues to closely follow the situation of
LGBTIQ+ refugees in Kenya as individuals with heightened protection risks and makes every effort
to ensure their individual protection needs are addressed.
The Refugees Act, 2021, which came into effect in February 2022, forms the foundation of the
legislative framework for the protection of refugees in Kenya. The Act reaffirms the commitment by
the Government of Kenya to offer protection to refugees in line with the 1951 UN Refugee
Convention and the 1969 OAU Convention.
Refugee Regulations to guide the implementation of the Refugees Act, 2021 are currently being
developed, and efforts are being made to ensure that the impact of provisions that may reduce
protection space for LGBTIQ+ refugees, including the possibility of expulsion under Subsection
19(2), are minimized through the development of appropriate guidance in the Regulations.
Continued here.... The FULL Briefing can be accessed at link here:
or PDF below
The Briefing concluded on a note that continues to perplex, and add to the complexity and harm to the most vulnerable of the Refugees - the authentic LGBTQI+ refugees - often abused, usurped and misled by opportunistic frauds:
UNHCR NOTES, AND AHRC ENDORSES and FULLY SUPPORTS THE ACCURACY OF THE BRIEFING AND THIS FOLLOWING STATEMENT:
Despite the efforts, UNHCR remains deeply concerned about the spread of incorrect information on social media regarding the LGBTIQ+ situation in Kakuma, with regular updates being circulated from individuals both in Kenya and abroad.
Social media posts have also reportedly “outed” LGBTIQ+ refugees without their consent.
Misinformation and disinformation spread quickly online, and any exaggeration or manipulation of facts can create additional tensions and place the most vulnerable LGBTIQ+ refugees at heightened risk.
UNHCR has been urging those posting on social media about events or situations related to refugees in Kenya to verify information through diverse sources.
The situation is very complex, and the spreading of misinformation undermines our continued and
collective efforts to protect those in need, ensure peaceful co-existence and safeguard the best
interest of all refugees in Kenya, including those with an LGBTIQ+ profile.
Additionally, several fundraising efforts have been organized on behalf of LGBTIQ+ refugees in
Kenya, including in relation to access to medical treatment and to address reported security
incidents, but accountability concerns have been raised as to how the funds have been used.
UNHCR continues to provide fact-based information to refugees and host communities to promote
peaceful coexistence. UNHCR also communicates regularly with international advocates to explain
the situation on the ground, address misinformation and contribute to fact-based advocacy.
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OUTSPOKEN REMARKS by Melanie Nathan from African Human Rights Coalition:
AHRC has borne witness to the great lengths UNHCR have gone to implement best possible protection and practices for LGBTQI+ refugee in Kenya under the circumstances of dealing with a hostile host country and fully endorses the Briefing herein
AHRC recognizes the challenges of limited funding, food shortages and the almost impossible challenge of having to negotiate protection in a sovereign country that also criminalizes LGBTQI+ people under their laws, thereby a hostile host country.
AHRC calls out the United States Biden Admin and Canadian Government for not doing enough to open pipelines for LGBTQI+ refugees in Kenya and failing to bring effective diplomacy with Kenya's Government to find durable solutions for LGBTQI refugees.
AHRC urges Civil Societies, Funders, NGO's and the Western Governments to fund appropriately to ensure solutions and protections are properly and fully funded
America especially has a responsibility to LGBTQI+ refugees from African countries for the ongoing harm being perpetrated by American Evangelicals stirring up anti-LGBTQI+ hate on African soil
Europe has an ongoing responsibility for the harm their antiquated Colonial Penal Codes continue to cause
AHRC is concerned by the impact of par.19(2) of the new Kenyan Refugee Act and how this law may serve to circumvent Kenya's international obligation to all refugees, serving to discriminate and refoulement of LGBTI+ refugees. We believe the Kenyan Government introduced the clause as a direct response to opportunism, criticism, lies, protests and instigation from those living in the west that have brought unwanted negative attention to a government which does not want to be exposed as helping LGBTQI+. Kenya's new President Ruto knows how popular the ANTI-GAY milieu is in the country that just elected him. The last thing he wants is for his populace to think he is helping gays. This complex truth seems to befuddle western activists and the straight people who are pretending to be gay and who have nothing to lose by exposing and calling unwanted attention to the Kenyan government. These players were warned of the harms and yet persisted and now the harm has come home to roost in the form of par 19 (2).
AND IMPORTANTLY - AHRC has borne witness to the spread of lies and false information by opportunists in Kenya, and often by so called well-wishers in the west who are doing nothing more than harming the entire trajectory for all LGBTQI+ refugees in Kenya. These lies have also been spread by those claiming LGBTI profiles who have been smuggled to Kenya having been told they will receive a quick settlement to the United States. Some of these frauds have already made their way to the United States and other countries. Their profiles are well known at this point, as well as the names of the smugglers. Much of this information is available in recorded and documented evidence. These lies are designed to alter the narrative and to thwart funding from legitimate fundraisers to false funding of individuals who claim services are not available when in fact such services are available. This is most unfortunate and has been costly to attempts to provide legitimate humanitarian services. It is with great sadness and disappointment that I find myself compelled to speak out -
I realize that when a great lie persists, one must speak the truth to effect the correction, at whatever short term cost. Because it is the long term that offers the road to remedy, and not the short term.
Melanie Nathan, nathan@AfricanHRC.org
AHRC has Provided grants to build fortifications for added security, Toilets in camps, Humanitarian Services as an adjunct to current services, Food Ration supplementation.