LGBT HISTORY MONTH

It is February! So much love oozing from this month and we are here for it. It is the month of love and what better way to honor the efforts of our history makers that have brought us to where we stand today! It has been quite a journey both nationally and internationally.

Around The World

Homosexuality has been a taboo topic in literature since the early times more than the topic has been referenced, although, if there is anything that has been clear is that it has existed since time immemorial. Now Men who have Sex with Men (MSW) and Womxn who have sex with womxn (WSW) have been popularised as going against most cultures and religions but times have shown that this passive attitude has changed over time. This minority group is increasingly being accepted and recognized.

Why is this?

  • Society is more aware and informed about their sexuality, gender expression, and identity.
  • The human right to everyone as sure as the day is after dark and people better understands their liberties.
  • Information is faster and globally consumed than ever before. Access to information is easier.

UK

597 AD in Britain, when Augustine of Canterbury, the citizens were practicing homosexuality through the Celtic, Roman, and Anglo Saxon periods, though literature is lacking to support this. Post 597 AD, Christianity, and homosexuality began to clash. Same-sex male sexual activity was characterized as “sinful” but not illegal. Under the Buggery Act, 1533 male anal sex was outlawed and made punishable by death. LGBT rights first came to prominence following the decriminalization of sexual activity between men, in 1967 in England and Wales, and later in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sexual activity between women was never subject to the same legal restriction.

In 1394, Elenor Rykenor was caught having sex with a man called John Rigby and they later found out Eleanor was also called John. Sighting non-binary and gender fluidity.

In the 1950s and 60s, a gay magazine Film & Filming magazine was able to operate under the counter till 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 when gay sex was decriminalized in England and Wales in plain sight as a cover of highlighting men-lots of men in ‘film’.

In 1957, Wolfenden Report recommended decriminalization of gay sex and countered homosexuality being a disease.

1985, ‘gross indecency between two men was illegalized and 1921 WSW were thrown in the bandwagon, more of a badwagon!

Since then progressive laws have been enacted like the Equality Act 2010. A ban on LGBT individuals serving openly in the armed forces was officially lifted in 2016. Having been introduced in the 1980s, Section 28, which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by schools and local authorities, was repealed in 2003. Transgender people have had the ability to apply to change their legal gender since 2005. The same year, same-sex couples were granted the right to enter into a civil partnership, a similar legal structure to marriage, and also to adopt in England and Wales. Scotland later followed on adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2009, and Northern Ireland in 2013. Same-sex marriage was legalized in England and Wales, and Scotland in 2014 and in Northern Ireland in 2020

USA

1793 a British colony, the United States gained its independence after the American Revolution, and between the 18th-19th Centuries such acts like sodomy were considered a capital offense in some states, and cross-dressing was a felony punishable by imprisonment and corporal punishment.

1828, the Webster Dictionary includes gay sexual practices omitting lesbian sexual practices or any other sexual identity and expression for that matter.

Through the 19th century and the new 20th-century sodomy laws in the United States have varied greatly between the states.

What has been constant is the presentation of literature, film, research & media references in this Western world.

 Today as it stands the first Black POTUS took remarkable strides to enact progressive laws that were set back by the Trump administration and the current POTUS, Joe Biden is compensating for this by reversing and undoing bans like a trans person in the military, providing relief for LGBTQ in face of the pandemic, paying survivors benefits to LGBTQ elders among others. Now out of the 52 states, 50 of them allow same-sex marriages.

Kenya

Since Kenya gained independence from the British colonialists, gay sex has been an offense in the eyes of the law. Early literature pre-colonial and Christianity, Africans did have a culture, unfortunately, it was not as rich and vibrant as its people. Generally, African history pre-colonial times are almost nil, and very few written by Africans themselves compared to non-African authors and researchers (Please prove me wrong in the comment section). Existing research of African History is mostly seen through the eyes of a white man. Inevitably, you can imagine the minuscule information about LGBTQ history that is available.

Fortunately, African narrative is very hard to completely erase, we had our ways of passing down information, though not as chronologically as other pieces of history. It’s known that homosexuality did exist in a number of African cultures. In fact, the insinuation of homosexuality being a ‘Western’ influence is a good example of truth hiding in plain sight. In layman’s terms, it’s a notion that comes from a place of ignorance.

In Agikuyu and Nandi culture among other Bantu ethnic groups did practice woman to woman marriages in situations where they were barren or the absence of a husband, the woman would take for herself a younger woman to bear her children and take care of as a husband would (my late and last generational maternal grandmother did this).  Kings and chiefs are said to have taken boy wives for themselves and seers were known to have been homosexuals –they had a queer eye.

With the post-colonial period came the introduction of Christianity that explicitly condemned this way of life and that same archaic laws have gone unchanged even during the rollout of the 2010 constitution where homosexuals continue to be criminalized in Kenya despite the number of contradicting Articles in the same constitution overruling them.

  • 162. Unnatural offenses Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature, or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years: Provided that, in the case of an offense under paragraph (a), the offender shall be liable to imprisonment for twenty-one years if— (i) the offense was committed without the consent of the person who was carnally known; or (ii) the offense was committed with that person’s consent but the consent was obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of some kind, or by fear of bodily harm, or by means of false representations as to the nature of the act.
  • 165 Indecent practices between males Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years

How it has been?

LGBQ persons living in Kenya have been facing an appalling degree of discrimination, harassment, unemployment, lack of housing, violence, blackmail, and even death that have been worse especially during this Covid-19 period.

Where we are today?

Despite all the challenges facing the queer community tremendous steps have been taken to decriminalize homosexuality such as; Ban of anal examinations of gay men in March 2018; Registration of LGBTQ organizations as NGOs which was won by Eric Gitari, a lawyer in 2019; recognition of trans persons, and intersex persons as a third gender in 2016 and the continued battle of #Repeal162 by the High court in 2019 which its appeal is yet to set a date. Read more…

Great achievements have been made and greater steps to take in the future!

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