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1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The recent escalation of homophobia especially among the neighboring countries of Kenya and conventional insecurity in the horn of Africa has prompted LGBT asylum seekers and refugees to stream into Kenya as a safe haven. However the laws of Kenya continue to criminalize homosexuality1 and leaders have been openly homophobic as evidenced by Kenya’s Prime minister’s call for arrest of gays who he termed as mad.2 Kenya is a party to the various international conventions concerning human rights, refugees and asylum seekers. Since 1999 the United Nation’s Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention) has included lesbians, gay and bisexual people as ‘members of a particular social group’ who qualify them for refugee protection. Adding to the problems is the requirement that the LGBT asylum seekers need to prove that their own state is not ‘willing or able’ to protect them. This means seeking protection in their country and being refused, before claiming asylum abroad. Obviously in East African countries it may be very difficult to complain of homophobic crime without incurring further discrimination and possibly violence, and it is then hard to prove that it has not been possible to obtain protection by your state. Understanding LGBT issues and the challenges they face while seeking asylum and refuge is a practical imperative that can help duty bearers to fashion practical solutions in the matter. How this is to be achieved is worth an investigation.

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Cap. 63 Penal Code of Kenya http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/2010/11/101129_kenya_odinga_gay.shtml

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