14 Dec 2023, Posted by INEND in INEND

On September 12, 2023, the Supreme Court of Kenya reaffirmed its earlier decision to allow LGBTQ+ groups to register as NGOs, while dismissing a challenge to that ruling by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Opondo Kaluma. In no small measure, the Supreme Court has in its wisdom given a crucial shot in the arm towards LGBTQ+ rights and allowed an interesting perspective from which a national discourse on marginalisation will proceed. However, the journey is still a long way from the destination, as evidenced by demos this week in Mombasa against the LGBTQ+ community.

Marginalisation is a lethal sociocultural and political tool of division and manipulation. It aims to paint other people; tribes, races, sexual orientations and political persuasions as “not worthy of human dignity because they are different from us”. Quite often, those who suffer marginalisation in one category may unknowingly perpetuate the marginalisation of persons in a different category, simply because they perceive themselves as superior. For instance, it is not uncommon to find persons already suffering exclusion based on tribe or political persuasion, themselves actively promoting the degradation of other groups based on sexual orientation.

The history of mankind is replete with wars, genocides, the holocaust and massacres that were carried out on a people because the perpetrators saw them as different. It all begins merely as a perception, then is infused with a level of indoctrination and proceeds towards the dehumanisation of such targeted groups, so that in the minds of perpetrators, the elimination of such groups becomes “fair game”. Above all, marginalisation thrives on the silence of the majority. If we speak out, we defeat the culture of exclusion that is a dangerous seed planted by marginalisation.

Members of the LGBQT+ community in this country pay taxes, follow the law and engage in nation-building, like all others. There is a real moral question around the philosophy that it is okay for certain demographics to pay taxes to the exchequer, but not okay for them to enjoy the same levels of services, protection and goodwill extended to all other citizens. This philosophy presupposes that the national contribution to GDP by some groups can be welcome, but not the requisite enjoyment of rights and privileges enshrined in the constitution. This is unsustainable. Luckily, the Supreme Court and the Constitution have both pronounced themselves unequivocally.

Research shows that the continued exclusion of marginalised demographics like the LGBTQ community costs the economy roughly USD 1.5 billion (over Kshs 200 billion by current rates). We can base the conversation on the economy or around the eradication of prejudice in general. We may even go a step further and aver like our founding fathers did, that we need to embrace our diversity in order to build a stronger foundation for our nation-state. But by far the bigger conversation must always be to live and let live; let us respect each other’s choices, desires and aspirations and acknowledge that our diversity does not make us weaker as a people and a nation.

We conclude by urging all those who mobilise towards hatred or organise demos meant to marginalise others that hatred is very expensive while spreading love is free. 

Media Statement

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