Health and Freedom: The Tense Interdependency of HIV/AIDS Interventions and LGBTIQ Activism in Kenya

Lucy Wanjiku Mung'ala, Anne de Jong
2020 Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research  
In recent decades in Kenya, public health interventions to address the HIV vulnerability of sex workers and men who have sex with men have been accompanied by a rise in gender and sexual minority (hereby also interchangeably referred to as LGBTIQ) activist initiatives that frame access to healthcare, legal recognition, and social acceptance as a human right. Complementing long-term engagement and ethnographic research among sexual minorities in Kenya, in addition to fieldwork stints between
more » ... stints between 2016-2018, the authors analyzed online statements regarding priorities and strategies of LGBTIQ organizations (local and global) and legal case files. We examine one case in which transgender and intersex plaintiffs objected to the name and mission of an NGO working towards equality and full inclusion of sexual and gender minorities because it incorporated the words gay and lesbian while applying for its official registration and it would include trans and intersex in the organization's mission. As such, the politics of naming, identity, and representation are neither new nor exclusive to Kenyan LGBTIQ activism. This case and related files reflect the everyday interactions of groups with seemingly conflicting goals, showing them to be part of a rich, connected "niche activist" scene. Rather than take this as a rigid split between activist organizations, we argue that these tensions are historically rooted in – and form a microcosm of – the politics of the global NGOization of both healthcare access and human rights advocacy in Kenya.
doi:10.36583/2020060114 fatcat:ugkpkuvuyzdpznmuxb5bwds7qe