Mama G is usually considered the perfect tenant — until his landlord finds out he’s gay. Then he’s kicked out, and must find another apartment in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. “I have been evicted several times. This is my sixth place,” the 28-year-old said.
Mama G is an openly gay man in a country where homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison. “I am a victim of violence. I have been beaten several times. You can’t go even three days without experiencing violence,” he said.
Despite the threat of harassment, Mama G is unapologetic about who he is, dressing how he wants and wearing makeup in public.
But the sex worker and activist is devastated that his family cut him off when he came out in 2013.
“I am always feeling bad. It is like psychological torture. I am going to counseling right now to hopefully come back to my senses after I was rejected by my family,” he says.
In their quest to be acknowledged as equal citizens, the LGBT community has filed a petition in the Kenya’s High Court to scrap a British colonial-era law which outlaws sex between men.
“All we are asking for is respect and recognition of our rights as Kenyans,” Mama G says.
Homosexuality is outlawed in all but one African country: South Africa, where the constitution upholds the right to same-sex relationships. A recent legal victory has given Kenya’s gay community hope that the court will today rule in their favour. Last year, the Court of Appeals ruled that conducting forced anal examinations was unconstitutional.
“Can you imagine being told to lie on your back and have things inserted in your anus to ascertain that you have had anal sex? It’s an invasion of privacy,” says Mercy Njueh, from Kenya’s Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
The commission is one of the groups petitioning the court to overturn the ban on gay sex. While Mama G and Ms. Njueh are cautiously optimistic about the court’s ruling, they fear there could be an outbreak of violence regardless of the result.