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What is seen when bishops stick their heads in the sand
When you reject the opportunity to welcome gays as gays to the parish,
you lose any authority that they might give you to encourage them
in full and responsible relationships. Do not be surprised at what
you get or at the risks when your own son or daughter marries.
We do not have to go to Africa to find examples of lesbians and gays
who have lived down to the Church's expectation that they try to be
what they are not -- lesbigays who have married only to discover
at a huge cost to everyone that the 'cure' did not work.
Don't pray the serenity prayer unless you're prepared to heed the
Integrity is not just for lesbigays: it is for everyone.
Lutibelle of the Lambeth Lepers Belles/Louie
SEX BETWEEN MEN IN KENYA MORE COMMON THAN GENERALLY BELIEVED: STUDY
NAIROBI Aug 14 Sapa-Panos
African leaders from the late Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, to
Robert Mugabe, current president of Zimbabwe, have claimed that sex between
men is "un-African" and only occurs on the continent as a result of pernicious
Daniel arap Moi, the current Kenyan president, agrees. "Kenya has no room or
time for homosexuals and lesbians. Homosexuality is against African norms and
traditions, and even in religion it is considered a great sin," Arap Moi has
been quoted saying in Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper.
But networks of men who have sex with men can be found across the continent.
And in Kenya, where homosexuality is a criminal offence, their voices are
beginning to be heard.
Statistics on the number of such men are hard to come by. "What we have is
just impressions," said Dr Frank Njenga, psychiatrist and HIV/AIDS prevention
activist. Njenga argues that Kenya has "a good number of men who are
constitutionally homosexual but socially heterosexual, so as to fit in the
As in all other developing countries, sex between men plays a small but
measurable role in Kenya's HIV/AIDS epidemic. But that role is not restricted
to men alone. Official and societal disapproval often obliges such men to
marry women. And if they have unprotected sex, the risk of HIV transmission
According to UNAIDS, the umbrella United Nations agency, fewer than five
percent of AIDS cases in the country are the result of sexual transmission of
HIV between men.
But studies by the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) of sexually
transmitted diseases among truck drivers show evidence of homosexual activity,
particularly between older men and boys aged 12 to 16 years. These studies are
supported by anecdotal evidence which suggests that sex between men in Kenya
is more common than generally believed.
AMREF is trying to establish how people contracted the virus in order to
develop strategies that can help check transmission. According to AMREF's Dr
Nduba, "Homosexuality is an area that needs to be looked into, but we tend to
shy away from reality.
"Men having sex with men is not only common among young people, but
fashionable. Just as young men like to wear an earring, they are also opting
to try out homosexual practice. It is not just seen as an orientation, but
also a 'fancy lifestyle,'" he said.
Allan Ragi, of the Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium, said sex between men is
practised in prisons, military, boarding schools and colleges throughout
Kenya. And some men share housing not only for economic reasons, but also to
meet emotional and physical needs.
Other interactions are more open. Within walking distance of the University of
Nairobi, in a building open to the public, young men who openly refer to
themselves as "gay", meet regularly to socialise. A few even come in for a
drink at the end of the day, wearing make-up and jewellery.
But in general, homosexuals in Kenya - as in many other countries - tend to
keep their sexuality a secret. They include men like:
- Odongo, 42, a petrol attendant who no longer has intimacy with his wife but
pays for sex with male partners;
- Jared, 55, who owns a big house in a posh Nairobi suburb, and has been
married three times - each of his wives left him after finding out that their
marriage was a front for his homosexual lifestyle;
- Amin, 54, a primary school headmaster who hires a room for sex with young
men he picks up in the evenings;
- Peter, a 50 year-old property developer who is frequently seen at social
functions with young women. When the party is over, he drops the girls off
before taking up his male relationships in private; and
- Rocky, 23, a student of languages who says, "Marriage is not an option for
me. God made me and understands me. I don't think it is a sin what I do."
Men who have sex with men are perhaps more accepted in the coastal regions of
Kenya, where there are 'marriages' between men. As older women, known as
mkungus, educate young girls in the duties of marriage, young homosexual men
learn from male mkungus. The training lasts a month; at the end, the younger
man gives the mkungu special cloth and kitchen utensils as payment.
Most men who prefer sex with men claim that they are pressed into marriage.
Some wives know of their husband's sexual and emotional relationships with
other men, while others remain ignorant. Those who find out, seek counselling,
hoping that the husband will change, or, if they are economically independent,
they walk out.
How much women are at risk of contracting HIV from their husbands' affairs is
The taboos surrounding men who have sex with men have meant that few, if any,
attempts have been made to provide AIDS education and support to them. As a
result, few such men use condoms regularly. Some men do not use condoms with
their wives because they fear that it will invite suspicion. Often there is
little sexual contact between husband and wife, although even one act of
intercourse is enough to transmit the virus if a condom is not used.
UNAIDS resident Adviser George Tembo said his organisation has not yet
targeted men who have sex with men. "Homosexuals are not easily accessible.
They will need to come out of the closet if they are to get any attention," he
However, a document adopted unanimously by the Kenyan Parliament in September
1997 acknowledged that "groups such as beach boys, watchmen, soldiers,
prisoners and truck drivers may usually establish casual relationships because
circumstances separate them from their regular sexual partners for long
periods. This makes them more vulnerable to HIV."
Maina Kahindo of the Ministry of Health commented that "taking into account
other modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS, homosexuality is negligible, and
should not take up our resources and time." He continued, "We have other, far
more pressing areas which affect the majority of our people and therefore need