Kenyan homophobia costs the country 1.7 percent of the GDP

The High Court of Kenya last week upheld the status quo of Section 162 and 165 of the constitution that criminalizes same sex, terming it as ‘gross indecency,’ thus punishable by 5-14 years jail term for the perpetrators.

The decision that will, with no doubt, be appealed by the LGBT group in the Supreme Court leaves the sexual minority to homophobic tendencies with no explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“The LGBT group will still work on advocacy rights against this sections of the law that are unconstitutional and inconsistent with many rights including the right to privacy,” David Kuria a gay activist and Executive Director of Kuria Foundation For Social Enterprise told Business Today.

However, a report by Open for Business Coalition- an association of Google, IBM, Microsoft and Deutsche Bank- revealed that anti-gay attitudes among Kenyan people costs the nation up to Sh130 billion per year translating to 1.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The report released early this year attributed the losses to; missed tourism earnings that runs at Sh7-Sh14 billion, poor health outcomes at Sh8-Sh105 billion and less employment and empowerment of LGBT+ people at Sh4-Sh11 billion annually.

The report estimated that lost productivity due to LGBT+ discrimination in the formal and informal sector accounts for Sh5.3 billion and Sh5.2 billions respectively.

{ Read: Will Kenya ever decriminalise gay sex? }

“If Kenya focused instead on LGBT+ inclusion, that approach could help provide the country with what it needs for sustained economic growth,” reads part of the report.

The decriminalization of same sex relations is blocking the country from a litany of economic benefits as skillful personnels are discriminated against due their sexual orientation and drives away foreign direct investment.

“This report aims to provide a fact-based argument that LGBT inclusion is not just good for the LGBT community, but for the economy – and that means for every single citizen in the country,” states the report.

“Kenya has proven itself to be a forward-thinking and innovative nation that is progressive and leading the charge for Africa. By embracing LGBT+ inclusion, it would mark the beginning of a new era for the country that is looking bright with economic growth potential, and the country will position itself in a much stronger stead to compete with other leading countries on the global stage,” said Yvonne Muthoni Kenya programme director at Open For Business.

However, 96 percent of Kenyans believe that homosexuality is a taboo and abhorrent to the cultural values and morality thus not acceptable.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission in 2011 recorded that 89 percent of gays who revealed their true-self to their families were disowned and employees were fired or subjected to hostility, ridicule, humiliation, and discrimination.

{ See also: The fearless Kenyan gay writer, Binyavanga Wainaina }

The religious groups that play a substantial role in the country are in the fore-front fight against decriminalization of same sex. They condemn homosexuality as signs of decadence, disease, and immorality.

The former General Secretary National Council of Churches of Kenya Peter Karanja in 2012 said, “We are concerned that the direction the debate has taken is that of the recognition of homosexuality and prostitution which are against African beliefs and more so our Christian principles. This is a matter that deserves reflective discussion by our society in recognition of our values and beliefs. This is a view shared by our Muslim brothers and sisters. We do not however imply that those who practice them should be locked up, we believe they need assistance to change from these.”

Mr Kuria is of the opinion that religious leaders are plaster saints for accepting white gay men into their churches and rejecting African gay men.

“There is a lot of hypocrisy among the religious leaders. They discriminate African gay men but accept white gays in their churches. Is one sinner better than the other sinner?” he posses.

“All religions teach about love and inclusivity, but that is contrary to what religious leaders portray. There is no love or inclusion in judging a gay person because they are gay,” adds Mr Kuria.

Mr Kuria the former Executive Director of gay and lesbian coalition was forced to sell his six-years old Website Design Company that took a nose dive in 2011 after his sexual orientation came to the public limelight due to his work in fighting for LGBT rights.

{ Read: High Court refuses to decriminalise gay sex }

“The sexual minority are suffering in this country as stigmatization against them has deep roots at home, places or work, in schools and it is not only affecting us in the individual level but also the economy of the country as top talents are being shunned due to their sexuality,” he adds.

Kenya has seen LGBT+ refugees seek asylum in its boundaries as they consider it a safe haven for sexual minority in the Eastern Africa.

This might soon change with the court upholding the same sex illegal status that was imposed by the British Colonial rule in 1897.

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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]

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