With Kenya on the verge of tabling anti-LGBT legislation in parliament, advocacy groups in the US have called for a halt to trade talks between the two countries.
Led by MP George Peter Kaluma, a member of opposition politician Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, the proposed bill would further criminalise same-sex acts with penalties ranging from a suggested minimum of ten years in prison to the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", defined as "engaging in homosexual acts with a minor or disabled person and transmitting a terminal disease through sexual means."
The proposed Family Protection Act would also see a total ban on any activities "that promote homosexuality", such as wearing flags or emblems of the LGBTQ community.
Kenya already criminalises same-sex acts with penalties of up to 14 years in prison.
Kaluma's campaign has horrified advocacy groups, including a coalition in the United States who have called on President Biden to suspend trade talks.
The coalition, comprising a number of LGBTQI+, labor, trade, HIV, and human rights groups, on Monday sent a letter to the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, timed to coincide with her visit to Kenya for the launch of the United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP).
In their letter, the groups called on Ambassador Tai to "pause STIP negotiation until President Ruto commits to vetoing this bill".
Members of US Congress also wrote to the ambassador in June to express their concern, saying “The United States must make clear to both Kenya and other countries considering similar legislation that we will not stand idly by as they move to criminalize or further criminalize people for being LGBTQI+."
Growing anti-LGBTQ sentiment
The proposed bill in Kenya comes following Uganda's new Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed into law in May by President Yoweri Museveni. Considered one of the world's harshest anti-LGBTQ laws, it fully criminalises same-sex acts, with possible penalties of life imprisonment or death penalty.
In Ghana, lawmakers are in the process of amending the country's own anti-LGBTQ legislation with propositions of a three-year prison sentence for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ and a 10-year sentence for anyone who promotes homosexuality.
In Kenya, the Nairobi-based National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have reported a surge in number of attacks against the community. Calls it has received reporting abuse, including assaults, threats and discrimination, rose from 78 in January to 117 in February and 367 in March, the commission said.