Rainbow Women of Kenya (RWOK) is calling on LGBT identifying Kenyans to exercise their right to vote in the forthcoming elections. They say it is important for not only first-time voters but for everyone because the choice will be of paramount importance.
The group is also calling upon members of the LGBTI community in Kenya, to remain calm and avoid conflict although electoral violence remains a serious threat to the August 8th elections as seen by some of the incidents that happened during the ongoing political campaigns. They added that Kenya is capable of holding free, fair, peaceful and representative elections and it starts with the individual.
They also want candidates to desist from acts that could orchestrate unnecessary anxiety and violence during the voting period such as making homophobic comments. Several presidential candidates have come out to condemn homosexuality; a move that is expected to help them earn votes.
In a statement, they say “Never has discrimination, homophobia and sexism been wrapped so neatly and served so publicly. What we do not realize is that patriarchy and discrimination are at the root of our problems as a country.”
Despite all that LGBT identifying Kenyans are urged to remain calm.
“To every LGBTI and queer identifying Kenyan voter, it is time for us to exercise our right to vote, we have the responsibility to vote for our leaders our vote counts, therefore let’s come out and vote. To all Kenyans, safety first. We are evidently the soft target that aggrieved people will look out to harm.”
The organisation have released some tips on how to effectively participate in the elections.
Some of them are:
Have sufficient airtime on your phones at any given time for cases of emergency. Try to keep informed via the media, especially through radio stations, on the current security situation in your area and the wider surroundings. Familiarize yourself with the local area chairperson for cases of emergency.
LGBT identifying Kenyans eligible and intending to vote should communicate their polling stations to the next of kin or people they live with. All voting LGBT identifying Kenyans should closely observe the situation at the polling stations and withdraw in case of imminent danger.
Other movements on the voting day and the subsequent weekend should be minimized where possible. A family member or other relevant acquaintances should be informed of one’s whereabouts at any given time.
Be aware of alternative routes to your residence or any other destination. Avoid demonstrations and immediately leave areas that show signs of demonstrations or unrest. Avoid areas that are prone to riots e.g. local markets or where there are many people. Movement to places of social activity should be avoided and if not possible then it should be in places where there is security. Indulgence in any activity that impairs judgment e.g. drinking alcohol should be limited. All LGBT identifying Kenyans should move with their relevant identification documents
Be aware of the police station nearest to your residence and have access to the police emergency number.
Supplies and Home Security
LGBT identifying Kenyans should ensure sufficient food and water supplies at their homes for a couple of days in cases of widespread unrest that makes leaving the house inadvisable. LGBT identifying Kenyans should keep an appropriate amount of cash at home. Keep your entrances and windows locked. Keep basic first aid kits at home eg bandages, pain killers and disinfectants.
In case one gets caught up in a demonstration or unrest, remain calm and try to move away from the hotspot slowly.
In case one gets arrested, keep calm and inform community lawyers, the LGBT security team or coordinators.