Queer Rights and the Media Bill in Kenya

A few weeks ago, I sat in a meeting where I was offered the opportunity to edit the first (or nearly the first) locally published anthology of queer writing in Kenya. As envisioned, the project will document the lives and loves, joys and struggles of queer Kenyans, at home and abroad. I have dreamed of such a project for longer than I can remember. Probably since I first picked up Brother to Brother and, later, In the Life, and realized it was possible to read about lives like mine, loves like mine, feelings like mine.

I do not call myself a writer. But these books called me to writing.

Right before I left Nairobi, I attended the history-making launch of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya Resource Center. I have never felt as hope-filled about Kenya as I did on that day. I will treasure the program forever.

Queer Kenya exists. Is here. And is doing necessary, vital, life-saving, and nation-saving work.

I worry about the Media Bill because of its non-definition of obscenity. Queer writings have often been seized and destroyed on the ostensible basis of their “obscene” quality. In a country where the very words “gay” and “lesbian” are whispered, considered to be obscene, will it be possible to publish content by Kenyans, for Kenyans, about Kenyans?

It is vital and necessary and imperative that queer content on Kenya be written by Kenyans for Kenyans. We need to talk amongst ourselves, even as we invite visitors to share in our living and our loving.

I am less concerned about how the Media Bill gags journalists from revealing the truth about politicians. In Moi’s Kenya, we learned to talk through holes bored into our cheeks. We will always know what is happening.

I am concerned that this Media Bill forbids Kenyans from talking to teach other, about each other, that “public safety” is code for “protecting the politicians.”

I have said it before in conversation: 2012 is too far away. And our smug politicians who believe in a repressed population should be very, very wary.

7 thoughts on “Queer Rights and the Media Bill in Kenya

  1. I normally don’t respond to hate speech, nor do I allow it to taint my blog.

    However, I allow this for one very compelling reason: your statement represents exactly the same kind of hate speech that led to the post-election violence.

    By proclaiming your hate for fellow Kenyans, those with the same citizenship rights that you have, you implicate yourself within the worst forms of violence that Kenya has experienced and continues to experience.

    If you are comfortable standing on the side of those who kill and maim and destroy their fellow citizens with their words and actions, so be it.

    I hope you are not.

  2. Wow, sounds lovely! Any idea what the anthology will
    be called and/or where we can get it when it’s done?

    Good luck with the project, keguro.

    @KenyaLuv – get a life. Anyone would think you were
    chained in your seat and forced to read this blog –
    I hate trolls like you who scour the Web looking for
    places to share your insecurity and immaturity.

  3. shogeek, thanks!

    Still working out details, and will probably need to call in some legal minds to figure out if the Media Bill will be a problem, or how to contour our content around the Media Bill.

    Wish I didn’t have to.

    Details will be forthcoming!

  4. keguro, I’m doing a paper for school about the media bill, can you comment on what has changed? has it been use to sexually discriminate? has the media gotten around it?
    Is there any one thing in particular that you feel has changed?
    Thank you!

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