Staff arrested in Kenya LGBT centre for ‘recruiting’ gay youth

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Two members of staff at an LGBT+ organisation in Mombasa, Kenya, were arrested after police received a “tip off” about gay-related activities in the area.

Police raided the non-governmental organisation today and arrested two members of staff after receiving the tip off, according to Nairobi News.

According to the local news outlet, the police accused the group of “recruiting youth in the area to join the gay community.”

The staff members were held for more than four hours where they were interrogated by police, however they were let go earlier today.

Nairobi News quote Makupa Police Station as saying: “We received complaints from members of the public about the activities of the organisation.

“We raided and nabbed some of its staff for questioning,” the source continued.

It is illegal to be gay in Kenya, and the LGBT+ community can face a number of challenges in their daily lives as a result.

Men who are convicted of having gay sex in Kenya could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison for the offence. Other sexual practices between men are punished by up to five years in prison.

Transgender people also suffer discrimination in Kenya, where society is highly conservative and negative views about the LGBT+ community are widespread.

The scale of anti-LGBT+ sentiment was recently shown in Kenya when lesbian film Rafiki was banned because it was seen to promote homosexuality.

The film – which was made and set in Kenya – has been gathering awards buzz, and in an unprecedented move, the ban was lifted for a week so it would be eligible for Academy Award nominations.

When it was screened for a week in Nairobi in order to meet Academy rules, it broke box-office records in the Kenya. The ban is now in place again, however the filmmakers are pursuing court action to have the ban lifted permanently.

Meanwhile, a rugby team in Bristol this week launched a crowdfunding campaign to keep one of their teammates – who is originally from Kenya – in the UK.

The Bristol Bisons launched the fundraiser on November 22 after a petition to keep Ken Macharia in the UK topped 70,000 signatures.

Speaking to PinkNews this week, Macharia said he would have to conceal his sexuality if he is deported to Kenya.

“It’s extremely homophobic,” he told PinkNews from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. “There is mob ‘justice’ and criminals can blackmail you [over your sexuality] on online dating.”

He added: “I would not be able to live openly. I would be forced to go back in hiding. I would be forced to go back into the closet.”