Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba was found dead in a metal box

Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba was found dead in a metal box
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NAIROBI – Prominent LGBTQ activist Edwin Chiloba was found dead in western Kenya on Tuesday, local authorities said, with his body stuffed in a metal box and showing signs of a severe assault.

Police have arrested a suspect in the apparent murder, which has sparked condemnation from friends and legal groups and calls for justice.

County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale said in a statement that a village elder pointed out a box containing a body that had been pushed from a car outside Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu County.

Nyale said the suspect, 24-year-old Jactone Odhiambo, was arrested after he was seen in several places with Chiloba. According to him, the purpose of the arrest is to “gather information about the circumstances of the death” and help in the search for the unknown car.

“We still don’t know why he was killed like that,” police spokesperson Resila Onyango said. he said Associated Press. “Experts deal with the issue”

Chiloba was a fashion designer and model with her own clothing brand. ChilobaDesignsIt was on Instagram and popular social media and among the LGBTQ community in Kenya.

A budding human rights activist, she spoke about the importance of inclusion. Friends described her as bold, passionate, a person who loved people and fashion, and who used her work as a means of activism. The news of his killing on social networks caused widespread mourning and calls for officials to prosecute the culprits.

“This is a horrific crime, but it is becoming commonplace in Kenya – evidence of the growing epidemic of violence in the country,” said the non-governmental organization Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). twitterReferring to the April killing of 25-year-old Sheila Adhiambo Lumumba, a non-binary lesbian.

The KHRC called on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to “conduct swift investigations and ensure the arrest and prosecution of the killers”.

LGBTQ rights groups have only made incremental gains in Kenya, where conservative Christians hold great political power. Under a provision in the British colonial-era penal code, gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Although rarely applied, Human Rights Watch said the law contributed to a “climate of discrimination and violence”.

In May 2019, Kenya’s Supreme Court refused to overturn the law. Shortly before the verdict, then-President Uhuru Kenyatta considered homosexuality an “issue” in Kenya. CNN interview. Kenya’s recently elected president, William Ruto, has also taken a stand against LGBTQ rights in interviews, saying they are incompatible with Christian values.

MaryLize Biubwa, Chiloba’s friend and co-founder of LGBTQ rights organization Queer Republic, said Chiloba was attacked twice in the past year, once in July and once in September.

“He was full of life; It is very sad to think of his life in this way at this moment because he was the giver of life,” Biubwa said.

“His fight is not just for him, it’s for everyone who is queer, different, criminalized by the society we live in,” said Biubwa, who noted he feared for his safety after the attack. “Chiloba really could have been any weird person and that’s the saddest thing.”

He is not alone in his fears. Nyakwar Okinda, 28, a peer teacher who works for LGBTQ rights in Nairobi, said he was attacked in 2021 and that his friends were afraid of being gay “especially because of incidents like this”.

“Do we not have rights? Chiloba’s case is not the first,” he said. “We die and they tell us that justice will be done, but they forget. It makes us think whether we have the right or not.”

Healy reported from Washington.

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