An attempt by a group of alleged homosexuals to give one of their own a heroic sendoff in Watamu, Malindi on Monday turned nasty when outraged mourners attacked them.
Witnesses said the group of about 50, who had travelled from Mombasa and beyond, wanted to perform gay rituals which were rejected by other mourners.
The deceased was said to be a prominent homosexual and gay rights activist.
Trouble started when some men alleged to be homosexuals began to hold hands, kiss and sought permission from the presiding priest to perform what mourners believed were lewd acts at the graveside.
SEE ALSO: Church bus ferrying mourners turned back in Meru
John Karisa, a witness, said trouble started when the men openly proclaimed their sexual orientation and demanded a role in the proceedings with some appearing to be going through the motions of same sex acts in public.
"We must perform sex for him before his body is interred as he used to like it and we must give him that last respect, "one of the men is alleged to have shouted.
His friends responded in support claiming the deceased "was one of us and we must give him a heroic send off."
Tension peaked with mourners loudly saying the demands were unacceptable and barbaric in this conservative area. Things got out of hand when the irate mourners descended on the alleged homosexuals with kicks and blows and crude weapons forcing a brief halt in the burial. Several people were injured in the fracas.
SEE ALSO: Zambian president pardons gay couple jailed for 15 years
Police from Watamu rushed to the funeral to stop the violence. The most vocal gay activists were rescued from the angry mourners, but they suffered injuries.
Kilifi County Police Commander Joseph Nthenge termed the incident shocking.
"By the time the officers arrived the [alleged] homosexuals had been roughed up but we managed to rescue and drive them to the Watamu police station as tension remained very high," he said
The officer confirmed reports that trouble started when an alleged group of homosexuals from Malindi arrived at the funeral and demanded to perform the alleged sex acts.
Mr Nthenge said about 20 men were rounded up and detained by police for their protection as the burial continued.
The men were released at the end of the burial ceremony without charges.
The incident has been condemned by Christian and Muslim religious leaders in the county.
Bishop Thomas Kakala of JCC Malindi condemned the incident describing it as demonic.
Bishop Kakala said great civilisations have been destroyed by sexual vice and argued those practising same-sex relations had been influenced "by a few individuals".
Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Malindi Branch Chairman Sheikh Salim Omar Dima also condemned the incident saying Islam and Christianity are against homosexuality.
"I would like to condemn the act. Those behind it will be punished by God on the judgement day," he said.
Sheikh Dima said it was unthinkable for a normal human being to want to perform such acts in public in the name of preforming rituals.
Meanwhile, two men who were charged with engaging in homosexual acts in Diani underwent a medical test in Mombasa before being ferried back to Kwale for the start of their trial yesterday.
The two were arrested in Diani last week amid a violent wave of anti-gay sentiment in the Muslim-majority region after still and video images of local residents and students engaged in same sex acts were posted on the Internet.
Most of those in the pictures have gone into hiding or fled the county.
George Njeri and Caleb Idris allegedly engaged in the acts between February and 2 and 17 in Tandoori, Ukunda. They were arrested on Thursday last week and ordered to undergo medical tests as part of the police investigation.
Resident Magistrate Christine Njagi set them free on a Sh200,000 bond with a similar surety for each.
The two were represented by Martin Pepela from the Kenya Human Rights Commission.