Kenyan art exhibition highlights need for gay rights

Gay men kiss 20 June 2006 in Nairobi. In Kenya, homosexuality is regarded as a crime and though a growing phenomenon, the movement is still secretive and the subject of numerous discriminations. Photo: AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

JOHANNESBURG – A Kenyan art exhibition is challenging lawmakers to respect the rights of homosexuals.The artworks are inspired by real life situations about homosexuality.

The exhibition is hoping to reduce discrimination by looking at how the country's laws protect all its citizens. In Kenya, same sex marriage is banned under the Kenyan Constitution.

Lesbian and gay people continue to face persecution across most of the continent.
South Africa is the only African country to allow same-sex marriage.

READ: Two South Africans arrested in Tanzania for homosexuality

Article 27 of the Kenyan Constitution outlines the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination for all.

Kari Mugo from the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission says,"Twenty-seven is really about the conflict that exists between the constitution and the penal code, that we live in a country where the constitution guarantees absolute freedom and equality and protection but the penal code still criminalises certain people.”

Kenya denies gays and lesbians equality before the law and freedom from discrimination.

Homosexual couples are also prohibited from adopting orphans. Organisers are hoping that this exhibition will spark conversations, especially among victims of hate crimes.

WATCH: Checkpoint : Praying out the ‘gay demon’

Mugo says, "Regardless of whether you think something is un-African or un-Kenyan, that is not the conversation we are having. We are talking about basic dignity, rights and respects so when the government wants to infringe on how people engage intimately or behind closed doors, it becomes problematic."

Faith Wanjala, who is a contributor for the exhibition says her piece titled Pain of Release, is about the struggle of letting go.

"My aim is to reach to the people who are trying to find that sort of – I can relate to this– that sort of recognition, so however personal this is, I know there is someone else feeling the same way so me putting it out there, they can see it and they can feel the same way. It's personal but on a general level," she says.

The exhibition will run over a week ending on November 17.


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