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Home / Health & Science

New laws to empower gays, prostitutes

By GATHURA GATONYE | Mon,Jan 12 2015 00:00:00 EAT

Sweeping laws that could see gays, prostitutes and drug injectors enjoy full rights while cutting back on what the media can say about them are in the offing.

A comprehensive review of all laws said to hinder the groups from fully enjoying the provisions of the Bill of Rights has been carried out and a raft of policy changes recommended.

For example, it will be criminal for police to profile prostitutes, homosexuals and even drug injectors using their sexual activity, some which are criminalised by the Penal Code.

The review completed in November by the US funded Health Policy Project through proxy civil rights groups such as the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme, Kenya Sex Workers Alliance, African Sex Workers Alliance and others has been passed over to the Ministry of Health for action.

The detailed report recommends that gays, prostitutes and drug injectors be represented on health budgeting boards, in both the national and county governments.

The groups want a policy which makes it possible to have them represented by their own in oversight bodies and in forecasting and monitoring of medical supplies.

The document which may very soon be used to develop a bill for these populations want to see condoms, lubricants, injections and needles become a part of the Essential Drugs List to be paid for by the public. They also want a system for collection of used needles put in place.

"Policy should ensure comprehensive and consistent procurement, supply and distribution of HIV commodities as part of the Essential Drugs List," says the review.

They also recommend for a law that protects the confidentiality of their medical data and their criminal behaviour, barring the media from identifying them and the places they work from.

This could mean it may be illegal to cover and identify prostitutes during police swoops or investigative pieces on their activities. The media may not also be allowed to point out drug injecting or sex dens.

Even research publications may be banned from publishing data showing where such groups operate from as this would be a breach of their privacy.

Special washrooms

Last year, an international journal was pressurised to retract a map showing the hotspots for prostitution in Nairobi but the groups now want such caveats turned into law.

"Overall estimates of these populations should not be given to the media, as the publication of figures may result in unintended political or law enforcement action," says the review.

The bottom line of the report is that the Constitution guarantees everybody complete and equal rights regardless of their careers and allows public participation in all matters.

"Although Kenya's Constitution requires public participation in decision making, this assessment found general policy silence regarding the full involvement of prostitutes, drug injectors and gays in decision-making processes," says the review.

It says organisations representing these groups have been denied registration on the grounds that they contravene 'public order or morals.'

Now the reviewers want these groups to be allowed to participate effectively in developing policies related to their issues.

The review tied to Vision 2030 and indicated to come from the Ministry of Health shows transgender persons complaining of discrimination and want special washrooms to be established in jails and other public places for their convenience.

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