Kenyan Police Accused of Entrapping & Blackmailing Gay Men
A report from an LGBT Kenya website claims that police are extorting and blackmailing gay, bisexual and closeted married men in Nairobi, the capital and far and away the largest city in Kenya.
Identity Kenya reported that many police officers stationed in Nairobi’s Central Business District are extorting money from gay men by threatening arrest and prosecution.
Like several countries in Africa, Kenya has outlawed same-sex activities. Men caught in a homosexual act can face up to 14 years in prison. According to a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 96 percent of Kenya citizens said they do not support homosexuality. In 2010, Kenya’s prime minster, Raila Odinga, even ordered that anyone engaged in "[homo]sexual activity" be arrested and prosecuted, EDGE noted.
Last week a contributor for the website called "Nelly" was arrested by "a person who identified himself as a police officer from Central police station." The officer said that Nelly was selling gay porn and then took him to a van where they drove around Nairobi.
"I was at Kenya Cinema and one guy I was waiting for who said he was a client turned out to be a plainclothes officer," Nelly told Identity Kenya. "Before I could run, five others surrounded me. They showed me their IDs, handcuffed me and told me to hide the cuffs inside the bag while it was still strapped on my shoulder. They then took me to a waiting car near Afya Center on Tom Mboya Street and told me they were taking me to Central Police Station."
Nelly also said the officers then asked him for KShs 10,000 ($1,187) and "told me to call my friends to contribute." Nelly only had KShs 2,300 on him, which the authorities allegedly took and then released him.
Nelly said the police told him they knew him from a website he uses to sell his merchandise and from a Facebook page where he advertises his business.
The former legal and human rights officer for the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, Anthony Oluoch, told the website that about 30 percent of the cases the organization receives involves police blackmailing and extorting among married men. He added that most of the blackmailers are straight who pose as gay on social networking and dating sites to find their victims.