Rainbow Siblings' Keepers Initiative, Kenya
Photo by Anete Lusina: https://www.pexels.com/photo/unrecognizable-african-american-guy-with-pride-flag-during-parade-5721337/
Father Antonio, the AAOCC vicar and bishop-elect of Kenya, spent a year traveling across the mud roads of Kenya on motorbike and bus, meeting with small enclaves of the LGBTQIA+ community who were in hiding. Unlike several other countries in Africa, homosexuality and transgenderism is not explicitly outlawed. However, heterosexuality and CIS-gendered norms are enforced, sometimes brutally, by individuals and communities operating out their learned conservative European Christianity, a result of aggressively oppressive colonization.
For decades, to be open about one's identity was tantamount to a death sentence. If one was not assaulted or killed, one was often refused work and housing. Family would often not assist because of a real fear of economic or physical reprisal. To be true to oneself was to invite death. LGBTQIA+ rights groups have lobbied the Kenyan government for the right to form and reform their society for equality.
Fr. Antonio began his ministry meeting with a few people. When he was able to return to a region, the handful of people waiting to speak with him would double, then triple. He soon began getting invitations from hidden groups to visit and help them form communities where they could safely be themselves.
With his work and support, a group of over 40 individuals met, created by-laws, rented an office, elected officers, and has applied for registration with the government as a non-governmental organization for civil rights: The Rainbow Siblings' Keepers Initiative.
Not four months later, the Kenyan Supreme Court ruled that the government was wrong to prevent organizations like ours from forming and legally registering. We are on track for them to grow and become a force for equality and good. We support their efforts through spiritual counseling and encouragement, the development of educational materials and training (to confront mistaken Christian interpretations), as well as through fundraising and networking with other LGBTQIA organizations.
These brave people are putting themselves in danger to fight for what is right. Even our own Fr. Antonio has suffered from attempts at intimidation and break-ins for what he has done to the community there.
The AAOCC asks that you pray for our attempts to change the lives of the LGBTQIA community in Kenya and throughout Africa and beyond. It is so easy to look at life in America, Europe, and other progressive societies and forget that the majority of the world is unsafe (emotionally, physically, and legally) for the LGBQIA community born to those regions.
If you would like to help in this ministry to assist the LGBTQIA community in fighting for their rights and in keeping individuals safe, please donate to the AAOCC ministries below. If you would like more information about our anonymous groups and want to help on the ground with our efforts, email Father Antonio at: firstname.lastname@example.org.