|Apinda Mpako, Pan Africa ILGA|
|Apinda Mpako, Pan Africa ILGA|
A crowd in Likoni Mombasa surrounded and attacked a meeting of LGBT persons that was being held at a local hall center this morning.
According to a witiness who talked to Identity Kenya, the meeting was held at Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre and Library before residents surrounded the place to 'flush out' suspected homosexuals.
The witness reports that some of the participants are safe at the moment after escaping; he said the police had been informed of the meeting and had no problem. He said it was the citizens of Likoni who attacked the meeting together with local Imams and sheiks.
'The police had no problem. Its the citizens who called the media and came to harass us.'
Media houses like Citizen TV were at the scene, 'at the behest of the residents to cover the story' according to a witness. Citizen's audio report is here. In addition, Citizen TV's Twitter handle reports ''Chaos at Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre and Library as residents flush-out 20 suspected homosexuals.''
Their Facebook page post on this incident reads 'Angry Likoni residents flush-out suspected homosexuals who were receiving training on protection against AIDS and other diseases at the Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre and Library. Chaos ensued as the irate residents clashed with the suspected homosexuals.'
Classic 105 reports that 'Police have rescued 24 people accused of being gays in Likoni from angry people who wanted to lynch them. Likoni OCPD Abarro Guyo says the victims were attending a seminar when people stormed the venue baying for their blood.'
Michael Mambo from PEMA Kenya, a Coast based LGBT group issued a security alert on Facebook today warning ''Please exercise caution around Likoni and the Ferry areas not safe at the moment.''
There are fears that this attack will be reminiscent of the 2009 Mtwapa anti-gay riots that targetted suspected gays and led to destruction of property and evictions.
The meeting was a training by the Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium (KANCO) that had called a training of over 30 MSM and gay men from Mombasa.
A concerned lesbian activist from Mombasa told Identity Kenya that 'KANCO did not take into account the security of the participants and ignored consulting or referring to PEMA KENYA, which is the LGBT and MSM group in Mombasa.'
Sources say that the harm reduction training, targeting 30 MSMs was a one week non-residential HIV and AIDS peer education training that was held at Likoni instead of Turdor Catholic Pastoral Center where KANCO's offices are based, according to their website.
Questions are raised why KANCO did not consult PEMA-KENYA and changed the location from their otherwise safe offices to somewhere as volatile as Likoni.
A gay resident from Likoni told Identity Kenya 'As a precautinary move, can the organisers not hold meetings in Likoni given the people? Likoni is not an ideal address for such meetings.'
'Likoni is not a safe place to hold such a meeting since we know the attitudes and perceptions of people there,' said the lesbian activist.
A witness says that they noticed Imams and local citizens walking in the training hall during the meeting. The more effeminate participants were marked out.
'Some Imams came and sat down and looked at us without saying anything. Then more people started to come in. That is when things exploded,' said the witness.
The same witness recounts being beaten by the residents and Imams and reports that one participant had his clothes torn and another is nursing a broken finger.
This incident comes just as a gay man by the name of Nicholas was arrested by police in Mombasa on account of 'unnatural relations' together with his boyfriend. They both were arraigned in court.
Officials from KANCO refused to comment on the story. One official showed surprise when Identity Kenya contacted the KANCO offices saying 'I am the only one here at the office who knows this incident has occured. No one knows even my bosses.' She added that there were two trainings targetting MSM for two weeks in Mombasa with the last one happening this week.
She later added that 'KANCO Mombasa provided a car to ferry the participants to safety' though this is yet to be verified. She said she will get back to us 'once I talk to my bosses' and refused to be cited in this report.