Kenya’s LGBT Students Protest Planned Ban from Boarding Schools

Dozens of angry LGBT students on Thursday stormed the streets of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, to protest against suggestions by a minister that they be banned from boarding schools.

The students and several rights groups said a ban on boarding schools, which are common in Kenya, would be discriminatory and compromise their safety.

The Minister of Education, George Magoha, had said that gay learners should be restricted to day schools closer to their homes.

He said: “Right now, there are contemporary cases of children who are homosexuals and lesbians. They must go to day schools close to their homes.

“Your responsibility should be for the greater majority and not a few individuals. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by children.”

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The minister’s comments sparked angry reactions from the LGBT community who faulted him for profiling the students according to their sexual orientation.

In Thursday’s protest, the students were armed with placards that denounced the suggestion by Magoha that homosexual students be barred from boarding schools.

The protesters asked the education secretary to retract his December remarks and criminalize all forms of phobia that pose a danger to people, including homosexual students’ lives, in their two-page petition.

Reacting to the minister’s remarks, Makena Njeri, the founder of Bold Africa, a gay rights network, said, “Being a gay student going through high school already was a challenge all the way down to even being very close to being expelled. This already is discriminating me as a child when I was growing up. Now that the government is adding more pressure to institutions to continue discriminating [against] the kids [and] is something that we’ll not stand.”

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Kenya is one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality. However, the minister has yet to officially order boarding schools in Kenya to bar suspected gay students.

The LGBT community leaders who presented their petition to the Ministry of Education are expected to meet with Magoha next week.

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