According to report published by Amnesty International and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on Friday, the Kakuma refugee camp, located in northwestern Kenya, is not a secure sanctuary for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees and asylum seekers. This is due to the rising number of hate crimes and other human rights abuses that the LGBTI community experiences, which frequently go unreported to law enforcement.Because of its geographical advantages, Kenya attracts many people seeking refuge because of their sexual orientation. However, similar to other African countries, the country has criminalized same-sex relationships and practices. This, combined with cultural and religious views, has created a harsh environment for LGBTI refugees in Kakuma.According to Mercy, a lesbian interviewed by the two organizations:I came to Kenya because I had no freedom and security in my country. The culture and the law there did not allow me to stay. I was attacked many times and my life was at risk, so I left. My mum is the one who helped me escape. I thought I would be free here, but I have not found any solution. I just want to be safe.The report details how LGBTI asylum seekers face prejudice due to their status as refugees or asylum seekers as well as their sexual orientation and gender identity. This discrimination is reinforced by government employees and service providers throughout the registration and status determination. LGBTI refugees endure additional threats and harassment from law enforcement agencies, as well as limited prospects for local integration and resettlement.The report also mentions the police’s continued passivity in cases involving LGBTI asylum seekers as targets of alleged hate crimes. Among the numerous unresolved incidents, the report only recounts one example in which police officers investigated charges of sexual violence against an LGBTI refugee.According to the report, LGBTI individuals’ refugee status assessments have been specifically delayed, owing to their sexual orientation. Furthermore, both organizations are concerned that Section 19(2) of the Refugees Act, which permits the government to remove asylum seekers and refugees based on public morals, may be interpreted against LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. This would be a breach of Kenya’s international law commitments under the principle of non-refoulement–which prohibits states from transferring or removing individuals when there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be at risk of harm upon return–as well as a propagation of discrimination based on sexual orientation.The two groups call on the Kenyan government to protect the security of all LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees in the Kakuma. They also call on the government to take immediate action to address the hate crimes and other forms of discrimination committed against them and the wider LGBTI community.
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