This rant is about the airing of the NTV news feature #TheTrend last night during the 9 PM news. The “gay debate”, if you can call it that, was between Lawrence Mute who is a commissioner of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Charles Kanjama who is Vice Chair of the Kenya Christian Professional Association. The subject of the debate was a report by the KNHRC which proposed decriminalisation of homosexuality and prostitution as a means of enabling access to sexual and reproductive health by LGBTIQ identified Kenyans. The report also dealt with issues of sex education and other issues about access to health as per Section 43 of the Constitution (all this I got from Lawrence Mute because I haven’t got a copy of the report which isn’t available online in PDF form as yet). I first put up this rant earlier today on the QueerTalk mailing list and thought it would be great to channel my anger here also. Here we go:
Can we even call what went on yesterday evening “debate”? Can we say it contributed in any way to debate about sexual minorities? Can we claim that viewers were left with a sense of the kind of balanced conversation and articulation in which understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex work has to take place? I think not! Kanjama went home with all the won talking points and with the homophobes/transphobes/anti-women of the religious associations having captured the willing minds of many Kenyans. And it is very unfortunate that this was not because Lawrence Mute didn’t say anything of importance in the show but because the terms set and enforced by the “moderator” clearly supported the views espoused by Kanjama the orator for family values and African traditions and the Christian god.
Did Denis, who spent the afternoon at Nation Centre prior to the “big debate”, just talk about the sexuality spectrum in a 5 second clip? I don’t know *exactly* what we should do about this, but I am sick and tired of seeing the same shit said over and over again about “homosexuality” and “prostitution” and the same Sheikh Khalifa saying the same things about “uchafu” and “ushoga” or the Karanja person from NCCK which is a shadow of its former self trying to earn points at the expense of real people with real problems. I mean, the “moderator” actually linked the report, prepared over the course of many months and released a week before, with Obama’s announcement of his “evolution” towards the support of same sex marriage and the had the nerve to ask about whether the report was informed by the American Agenda! Sick and tired.
We should reconfigure the terms of debate in which our names, our bodies, our choices and our lives are invoked. If this is what LGBTIQ persons have to deal with in order to be “passed” to the national limelight by Kenyan big media then I think we can do without it. We can choose to lend our voices to other spaces where our voice and how we articulate OUR problems are respected. There are many websites that deal with gender, sex and body in Kenya, run by queer people, sex workers and allies. We seriously don’t need this shit.