Being gay in Kenya can land you in prison. So how come the government wants to count gays in its upcoming census?
As an effort to combat HIV/AIDS.
In a country with an estimated 6 percent HIV infection rate (down from 10 percent ten years ago), it’s admirable the Kenyan government is working to reach those at risk for contracting the virus, especially when there’s so much misinformation about it. Census data will provide health officials, both domestic and international, with the raw data necessary to plan HIV prevention and treatment projects.
But with laws still on the books that criminalize homosexuality (with 14-year prison sentences), officials find themselves in a precarious position: Hoping gays will come forward, even though they’ll then be identified by the government as gay. The obvious solution? Decriminalize homosexuality.
But more likely to happen: Keep secret the identities of those who voluntarily come forward. Except that’s a big request from a government that clearly views you as second-class.
Ironic, then, that in the United States the gays are demanding to be counted in the census, while Kenyan gays have every reason to hide from it.