Life is hard as a gay refugee

Friday, 28 December 2018 12:51 GMT

An aerial view shows recently constructed houses at the Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana District, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, June 20, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Geoffrey Kasenene, a Ugandan refugee living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya.

I am a Ugandan man living in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya, where I am seeking asylum.  

I am 23 years old, the second child to parents who did not accept or acknowledge my sexual orientation.

I ended up being homeless until I was helped by a Catholic priest along with my transgender friend Gideon.

It's now four to five years since I last saw my family, but it breaks my heart as I still feel their rejection, and it does not seem to matter all that I miss them.

I came to live in the camp after my friend Gideon died, and the Catholic priest who was taking care of us faced death threats due the "Kill the Gays Bill”, anti-gay piece of legislation that Uganda attempted to pass in 2014.

Life in the refugee camp have been very challenging with a lot of different problems.

There is a food crisis as the monthly food rations are being cut. I face issues with the other members of what is an often hostile community in the camp. The accommodation is poor and when it rains my tent floods. The police do not listen, particularly when I tried to report being attacked, and I face discrimination from many services but none of the organisations is providing support or help. 

My plan would be to leave the camp if I get a chance of resettlement in a country that is less homophobic. I’m looking for a job so I can chase my dreams as well trying to live happily as a gay person.

I hope to seek asylum in South Africa, since it's not as far as other countries where gays are treated well. The problem I have is to try and finds funds for to pay for my journey there.

It would be a long process - but all I need is the fee for the journey and to cross the border. I hope to gain my papers once I have arrived in the country, once I show the authorities the documents I have from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya.

I do not miss Uganda at all. I faced many challenges when I was there: family rejection, which pains me all the time; no protection since the “Kill the Gays Bill”; and there are many ways one can be killed if your sexuality is discovered - or you could be sentenced to many years in prison.

The situation in the camp as an LGBT+ refugee is as terrible as you can imagine.  

We face going hungry, since the food supply is being reduced. No matter that other groups of refugees face the same problems, they have a freer environment and rights to find additional food through their employment opportunities within the camp at large. 

LGBT+ people face economic and social discrimination that others do not.  

Life is really hard for me.


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