Same-sex relations are illegal in most countries in Africa.
Early next year in Uganda, the parliament will vote on an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that has the enthusiastic support of the parliament's speaker. Since the bill was introduced in 2009, the frequency with which Ugandans now talk or hear about homosexuality has dramatically increased. However, discussion of gay rights in the media is prohibited by the Electronic Media Act, which prohibits any broadcasting that violates public morality.
In Kenya, however, public perception of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people seems to be improving as the media opens up to the gay community.
David Kuria Mbote, the first openly gay Kenyan running for a senate seat, was recently interviewed on K24 television, a sign that the media is beginning to tell the stories about gay people in a positive way. Kuria had attended an Internews strategic communications workshop in 2010 where he honed his communication skills.
Since 2003, Internews has been working in Kenya training journalists to report on HIV/AIDS.
“Internews first engaged with the gay and lesbian community in 2008 after realizing that no media told their story yet they are a key population at risk of contracting HIV,” says Ernest Waititu, Internews Project Director of the Health and Digital Media Program.
With the help of Internews, Kuria’s organization – Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya – started the web site Freedom in Speech, an online news magazine that helps articulate issues of the LGBTI community in Kenya.
The Internews in Kenya web site also includes articles and radio stories about LGBTI issues by Internews staff and trainees to encourage discussion in the community. This audio story, produced by Internews Outreach Officer, Dzame Dallu, covers the issues that men who have sex with men face when they are seeking sexual and reproductive health services.
Watch a video about the efforts of Internews to improve media coverage of LGBTI issues in Kenya.