This statement was first published by Defenders Coalition Kenya

The 2021 IDAHOBIT celebrations have come at a time where SOGIE HRDs and organizations are mourning and alarmed of their safety and security. Defenders Coalition is concerned about the recent killing of a respected human rights defender in the coast region, Joash Mosoti. We condemn this act and witnessed rising insecurity amongst SOGIE HRDs and organizations in the country. We pass our condolences to the immediate family, friends, HAPA Kenya and all organizations affiliated with Joash. We extend our solidarity and support to you during this difficult moment.

Since 17th May 2020, Defenders Coalition has responded to more than ten cases comprising of SOGIE organizations office break-ins, home break-ins, physical injuries, negative profiling forced evictions and threats to HRDs across the country. These paints a gloomy picture in the recognition of the important work carried by HRDs to respond to the needs of their community members.

The effects of COVID 19 have also affected individual HRDs family life. In our monitoring of the situation of HRDs during the pandemic, there has been reported domestic and gender-based violence that has resulted to family disintegration and targeted attacks to HRDs. COVID 19 has also seen some organizations miss out on funding for their projects and activities. This has seen some of the organizations close down, scale down their interventions and also delay in responding to human rights cases reported to them. We have also noted with the rising scapegoating instances both physical and online platforms.

The witnessed delay by the government to acquire and disburse ARVs has been an up hill task for SOGIE organizations and HRDs who have been at the forefront to support people living with HIV/AIDS. This has created a mistrust between the organizations and their clients, something that has affected service delivery in this sector.

However, despite all this challenges, we cannot fail to celebrate the successes and good practices witnessed in the past year. We recognize the agility of organizations and individual HRDs rise to occasion to mitigate the effects of COVID 19 in their communities. Whereas some out of the way to do personal donations and humanitarian support for the SOGIE community, some went online to fundraise and highlight the situation of their communities.

We celebrate organizations that went ahead to organize webinars, entertainment and online games that kept their staff, volunteers and supporters engaged during the lockdown, curfews and restrictions to in person gatherings. We also recognize organizations that initiated income generating incentives for their members and other social-economic activities that kept them engaged and also creating community ownership.

In addition, we cannot forget the great work done by organizations who initiated a free toll number for counselling and wellbeing activities in their area of work. We appreciate your support, solidarity and hospitality to colleagues, peers and community members who are suffering repression in their countries. This affirms your commitment to ensuring a safe and conducive environment for the LGBTQ+ communities across board.

These successes indicate that we care about each other and are willing to stand in for our communities. In line with this year’s theme: “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing, Defenders Coalition wishes to affirm our support to the noble work done by SOGIE HRDs and organizations through strategic engagements/interventions, rapid response and advocacy initiatives led by the movement. We are just a call away in fulling the mandate you have bestowed on us of ensuring safety, security and wellbeing of HRDs in Kenya. VIVA!