A Kenya-based gay publication is shedding new light on the nation's clandestine gay and bisexual male population, menbers of which are being lured into Arab Gulf-based trafficking rings where they end up as sex slaves for the wealthy.
As reported by Identity, many gay and bisexual men from university campuses -- particularly from Kenyatta University -- have been transported to labor as sex workers for men in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. According to the magazine, many victims have been fooled into the trap by false promises of high-paying jobs, sadly not a difficult task for the traffickers given Kenya’s soaring unemployment rate.
Cracking down on the practice is made more difficult given the destination countries such as Qatar, which reportedly remains on the U.S. Department of State watch lists for showing no progress in identifying victims of trafficking, lack appropriate legislation. In addition, homosexuality is illegal in both the Arab states as well as Kenya, so many victims feel they are unable to report such cases of abuse to police officials.
A gay man familiar with the LGBT community in the United Arab Emirates who identified himself only as Mark tells Bikyamasr.com that the report is "not surprising." He went on to note: “We have seen a lot of the elite and super wealthy want to be gay, but that would go against their traditions, so instead they often marry and then hire or do this kind of thing, to have their real desires met. It is a problem of society not opening up to the gay lifestyle and forcing it to the background."
In May 2011, the Kenya Human Rights Commission accused local police of sexually assaulting gay men in their custody. "Some police officers even demand sexual favors in exchange for release from custody," Tom Kagwe, the commission's senior program officer, was quoted by LGBT Asylum News as saying at the time.