There’s nothing quite like a glimmer of hope in all the dreariness that accompanies LGBT life in Africa.
It’s not news that apart from having to hide their sexualities or risk being rejected by their families or worse become victims of a government always seeking examples to reinforce its ‘cultural values’, LGBT people also have to hide their sexualities from their healthcare providers. The majority of our healthcare providers as a result of personal, societal or religious bias do not treat patients neutrally, especially patients who are LGBT and as such are at greater risk of sexually transmitted infections. And the doctors and healthcare providers who are LGBT friendly are often handicapped by a system that refuses to recognise the special needs of LGBT people. This is why this article from NBC News is such a breath of fresh air.
Gay activists in Kenya, in spite of government negligence have managed to set up Kenya’s very first exclusive MSM (Men who have sex with men) healthcare clinic. The clinic is entirely staffed by gay men and LGBT allies and caters exclusively to gay men. Considering the extreme stigma around homosexuality in Kenya, compounded by the stigma around HIV following the country’s epidemic in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, having a safe space where gay men can be educated about HIV, safe sex practices and even be counselled about dating and LGBT life without fear of discrimination is so vital to the continued mental and physical health of Kenya’s sexual minorities.
Then men of the Ishtar community health centre are incredibly brave and hopefully the start of a community-based health care initiative that will spread across Africa.
It is vital.