“….the decision of not visiting the hospital due to the stigma and discrimination made us suffer a lot because in several instances we needed medical attention but we couldn’t get help because we were scared of how the society out there was going to treat us”Research shows the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQI+) community worldwide face physical and psychological abuse, exclusion, and other obstacles related to their rights as human beings[1]. This attributes tothe lack of knowledge of the mentioned sexual orientations, ignorance of specific health care issues, and general stigmatization.

Although Article 28 of the Constitution of Kenya provides that, “Every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected and offers “fresh impetus to the rights of the LGBTI community”[12], theystill remaina highly vulnerable population segment. This vulnerability has led to rights violations and de facto discrimination in public arenas, which affect access to acceptable healthcare, education, gainful employment and justice. One particularproblem is that in Kenya sexual orientations such as homosexuality are illegal, and for this reason, many victims and activists feel the intimidation and are afraid to report abuse, or even seek medical help.Evidently this was realized just recently when an Eldoret town based LGBTQI activist Edwin Chiloba was brutally murdered. His status information and deatyh report’s handling clearly demonstrates how societal misapprehensions as well as acknowledging the existence of the LGBTQI+ community continues to create stigma and elicit divisiveness. “ Becky Odhiambo Mududa, programmes director of Western Kenya LBQT Feminist Forum, says Kenya’s infrastructure for dealing with gender-based violence is “exclusionary” and “heteronormative”. When LGBTIQ survivors seek help, they are not assisted, she added. “Tell the government that they are mandated to design systems that suit all Kenyans despite how they identify.”

Even thoughsexual orientations related toLGBTQI+ are not fully embraced in Kenya, different organizations and individuals in Kisumu County have come together to support and provide safe havens for theLGBTQI+ community especially in the health sector. TheLake Region Womxn Health and Equal Rights (LARWHER) in its own capacity have been able to establish an LGBTQI+ clinic at Lumumba sub-county hospital. LARWHERprovides access to comprehensive health care services including Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) support, HIV/AIDS services, lab testing, STI screening and counseling for LGBTQI+women in Western Kenya. I spoke to some beneficiaries of these support systems, and it is obvious that there rights are infringed on and intimidations of anyone related to the LGBTQI+ when visiting other hospitals.Meet Benedicta Adena, a 26-year-old lesbian woman living in Kisumu- Kenya, who tells us of her experience. She says, ‘there are several occasions where I couldn’t get any attention or help whenever I visited the hospital as a lesbian woman. According to Adena, the discrimination would start the moment they would walk into a facility with her partner and the stigma became so overwhelming that they decided never to visit the hospital again. Adenasays, “The decision of not visiting hospital due to the stigma and discrimination made us suffer a lot because in instanceswhere we needed medication or to undergo health consultation

a doctor, we couldn’t get help because we were scared of how the society out there was going to treat us”.

LARWHER womxn wellness center, Kisumu County – Volunteers and staff

However, in one of theLGBTQI+ meetings Adena attended, a friend told her about a clinic in Lumumba hospital that was LGBTQI+ friendly and that they could visit any time if they needed help and that is how she learnt about LARWHER, which has been a safe space up to date.

Aiden Brace (not her real name) a 28-year-old transgender person who tells us about the challenges they faced before they got the opportunity to engage with LARWHER

Aiden narrates that when she walks into any health facility, as a male/masculine‘presenting’ is one of the biggest challenges because apart from the harassment they face from the people around especially the Boda-Boda riders(motorcycle riders), the health practitioners haven’t understood them and still don’t  show interest in providing services to them.

Sexual and reproductive health services and commodities available at LARWHER.Client being served
one of the staffs

 ‘‘For example, the service providers have bad attitude towards them, hence they would constantly harass you and wants to know why your “presenting” as male but not a woman and also when you have a health issue or maybe you need STI – UTI or HIV tests done theywould ask you to come with your partner for testing and treatment and here is where another problem comes in the moment you show up with same sex partner”, Aiden narrates.

There are no LGBTQI+ friendly health facilities hence they are not  able to comfortably access health services whenever they need them and this has increased  their exposure to several health problems  like STI,HIV and other health related issues. They are dis-appropriately represented and their struggles in attaining their right to sexual reproductive health services have only worsened as persecution intensifies

In Kenya, sexual behavior between consenting adults of the same sex/gender is illegal, which results in limited availability and access to health services and information for sexualand gender minorities. This results in unmet health issues for sexual and gender minorities who have a higher burden of STD/STI and HIV, STI-related cancers, and mental ill-health and trauma.

Nevertheless, engaging with Lake Region Womxn Health and Equal Rights (LARWHER) has made things simple and easier for us as Transgender persons because despite the challenges and resistance we face from the community, we have a place we can freely get  health related services and Sexual and reproductive health provisions at any given time without any discrimination and stigma

LARWHER has managed to provide a safe space for them in Kisumu County through the partnership of other organizations and health providers. This clinic has been an enabler of good self-esteem, confidence and the courage for the LGBTQI+community to constantly come for treatment and have owned it up to themselves for a better health.


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