TAKING THE HOMOSEXUALITY REALITY HEAD-ON: Intrgration for Impact Conference 2012 Sidelines

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Ms. Kate Kamunde a well known Gays and Lesbian Rights Activist in Kenya

The Centre for The Study of Adolescent (CSA) is an independent non-partisan, nonprofit organization. The purpose of the centre is to advocate and implement policies and programs that enable young people to exercise choice, access to services and participate fully in activities that promote their health and well-being and a vision of a society in which sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people are universally realized and enjoyed.

The organization runs its projects on an education based school to school outreach program. One such program is the “United for Body Rights” project which is the organization is implementing with partnership from African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF), Great Lakes University of Kisumu (GLUK), Nairobits, SAIPEH among others.

The UfBR project was started in 2010 when the group of about eight (8) organizations dealing with Reproductive Health for Women and Young people came together to advance access to education and services in the reproductive health sector in a non-discriminatory manner through a Rights Based approach to health in the context of The Millennium Development Goals.

The program which is being implemented in five (5) Kenyan regions i.e. Nairobi, Coast, Nyanza, Western and South Rift has however been met with a little bit of sceptism from the communities due to it’s approach to the never ending controversy that is homosexuality. The organization is on the fore front of advocacy for the realization of basic and equal health rights for homosexuals.

The Executive Director of the organization Mr. Albert Obuyyi however noted that the negativity being shown towards the program is uncalled for and is based on misinformation at the ongoing Integration for Impact Conference 2012.

“There is a notion out there that United for Body Rights” is advocating for Homosexual Rights in the community which is not true. What we are doing is giving a chance to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and inclination to access health education and services without being discriminated against” he said. “The program tackles a wide range of issues as far as reproductive health and HIV services. We have developed a rigths based approach for this program and we are seeking to make the population to understand that homosexuality is there with us in the community and the more we want to burry our heads in the sand and ignore it, the more we put those involved at risk”

Ms. Hellen Owino, the organizations Advocacy Officer said that the main aim of the program is to help address the inadequately address health matters hence the reason why the organization modeled it to highlight how among other things, Sexual Gender Based Violence in limiting the enjoyment of Sexual Reproductive Health.

“It is true that we have taken a cautious approach in implementing the program but we hope that we will use it to realize a comprehensive integration for health services for the different sexual orientations in our community” Ms. Owino said.

Annually, CSA alone reaches about seven (7) thousand young people with the program and they believe that their other implementation partners reach an equal number if not more.

Some of the challenges that the program is facing include stigma and homophobia towards the homosexual groups which in the end hinders the victims from coming out openly about their problems. Despite the support the program has got from The Ministries of Health and Education, it’s implementation is moving at a slow pace to due to the fact that the approach has not been fully accepted by the Ministry of Education program.

“The other major challenge is that most learning institutions in Kenya are religiously sponsored and it becomes an issue to convince the relevant authorities that these matters need to be addressed as they are viewed with a ‘moral eye’ by different religions” says Albert.

All in all, the association believes that the program will get support if understood, something that they are currently working hard to achieve.

“Our aim is not to promote immorality among the youth, neither are we advocating for homosexuality as perceived, we are just trying to make the society understand that the young people in this country are living in different times and are bound to make choices that are not popular, that does not mean that we shun them, we need to develop friendly environments where they can access health services confidently” Ms. Owino added.

Let’s continue the discussion on Twitter @kohadha #RH/HIV2012

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The Gays and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya Logo

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