LGBTIQ+ rights defender from Kenya
Photo by: Paula Wielders
Obwanda is an LGBTIQ+ rights defender from Kenya. He is engaged with Pema Kenya, an organization that works to advance social inclusion and protect the human rights of gender and sexual minority persons.
In Kenya, members of the LGBTIQ+ community face direct acts of violence, social stigmatization, and isolation. By law, in Kenya, same-sex intercourse is criminalized. Members of the community continuously experience human rights violations, unemployment, and poor access to health services.
In April 2023, a bill was presented that seeks to criminalize the existence of members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Kenya and criminalize programmes and services that serve and benefit the community.
Countering these actions, Obwanda is fighting for co-existence and higher inclusivity on a societal and legal level. With Pema, he strives for access to healthcare, and social and economic empowerment, through policy and advocacy and strengthening institutional capacity.
He does this through various methods such as countering misinformation, sensitization of communities as well as community leaders, and writing demand and protest letters to ministries and global funds.
During his time in Maastricht as part of the Shelter City initiative, Obwanda built an even greater network for his activism. He followed a human rights and development course at Maastricht University and strengthened his ties with COC Limburg. He encourages everyone to come together and unite through digital advocacy, for example by providing statements of solidarity, addressing embassies, and providing emergency funding.
“We should really work to build a global movement, and work together as global LGBTIQ+ rights defenders. Have a platform where we can interact and support each other in matters of building alliances.”
Learn more about Obwanda and his work through Pema Kenya.
Written by: Marie Theis, with the support of Obwanda Oluoch and Justice & Peace Netherlands