Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi told participants at a national symposium on HIV/Aids in Mombasa targeting homosexuals, lesbians and sex workers that the government had no option but to address the community’s concerns.
“We need to learn to live with men who have sex with other men… we are in the 21st century and things have changed,” she told the gathering on Thursday.
Participants at the seminar were mainly homosexuals, lesbians and sex workers, dubbed “most at risk population” because their sexual behaviour puts them at greatest risk of HIV infection.
Ms Murugi said the group was an independent constituency and should not be stigmatised because of sexual inclination.
She told the National Aids Control Council to compile statistics to enable the government to develop a policy to cut prevalence rates among the group.
“This symposium is critical in ensuring that risk factors are discussed and taken into consideration in national planning for HIV and Aids,” said the minister.
Religious leaders were on Friday furious at the minister.
Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa said the utterances were “satanic and contrary to Africa culture”.
“God in his holy books (Quran and Bible) cursed homosexuality and directed us to fight it. The minister has offended Kenyans who passed a new constitution that criminalises the vice,” he said.
Sheikh Khalifa urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to take stern action against the minister.
Kenya National Muslim Advisory Council chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao demanded that Ms Murugi resigns or be sacked.
“The minister and National Aids Control Council officials should create their own country which allows homosexual, lesbian and prostitution acts,” he said.