LGBTQ+ asylum seekers living in one of Kenya’s largest refugee camps routinely face extreme violence and human rights abuses, Amnesty International and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) said in a joint report.

Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable and/or upset.

The 54-page report, titled Kenya: “Just Like Any Other Person”, details the discrimination LGBTQ+ people face at the Kakuma camp.

This included hate crimes, rape and other serious human rights abuses which perpetrators were able to commit “with almost total impunity” given the inaction of authorities there.

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Victor Nyamori, Amnesty Kenya’s Researcher and Advisor on Refugee and Migrants Rights, said: “LGBTI individuals in Kakuma camp have suffered physical and sexual violence and other serious human rights abuses, including violations of their right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Such hate crimes are a criminal manifestation of the discrimination LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers face.”

Kakuma is home to more than 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including hundreds of LGBTQ+ people.

Esther, a 41-year-old lesbian woman, reported being raped twice in Kakuma camp during two violent ordeals in 2018.

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Winnie, a lesbian woman, had a business in the market where LGBTQ+ friends used to buy things from her.

She told the researchers that one day in 2019 she was away from work and left one of her children to take care of the business when a group of people destroyed her stall and injured her child, saying that the LGBTQ+ customers were affecting other businesses.

When she went to report the crime, the police told her to look for the attackers and bring them to the police station to be arrested.

“LGBTI asylum seekers suffer discrimination as well as homophobic and transphobic attitudes”

As a result of the findings, Amnesty and the NGLHRC are calling on the Kenyan government to urgently ensure the physical and psychological safety of all LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees in the Kakuma refugee camp complex.

“Despite a constitution that protects life and dignity for all, LGBTI asylum seekers suffer discrimination as well as homophobic and transphobic attitudes from Government officials, the police and other service providers,” explained Irungu Houghton, Executive Director of Amnesty Kenya.

“This is often reflected in delays to the processing of their asylum claims, harassment, violent homophobic attacks, threats, and intimidation, and extremely limited opportunities for local integration or third-country resettlement.

“The proposed new Kenya Government Marshal Plan for refugees must also address the experiences being faced by LGBTI asylum seekers.”

The report is based on interviews with 41 LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees between 2018 and 2023.

It can be read in full here.