Kenyan anger over paintings promoting homosexuality

Saturday March 09 2019

One of the rainbow flags painted on a footbridge in Nairobi. Artistes behind rainbow flag accused of secretly promoting homosexuality with the LGBT flag. PHOTO | COURTESY


A group of street artists has been using the walls and stairs of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, as their canvass — but one of the works has resurrected a debate about homosexuality in Kenya.

It can be found on some stairs, leading to a footbridge near the University of Nairobi, which have been painted in the colours of the rainbow.

Naitiemu Nyanjom, one of the artists involved, described it as a “stairway to heaven”.

But some have accused the artists of secretly promoting homosexuality by painting an LGBT rainbow flag.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya, punishable by 14 years in jail.

Kenya's High Court is due to rule in May on whether to decriminalise gay sex.


One person tweeted: “You start accepting the gay-pride colours you start accepting 'queer' people. It's a mental conditioning gay people want, anti-gay people hate but the rest of us are just saying keep it private and out of our public spaces."

Another said on Twitter that it was wrong to go ahead with the project in a public space without consultation: "We're either a country of rules or we're not. These rules exist for a particular reason.”

But others people on social media have been questioning how a bit of colour can be taken out of context.

One tweeted, "Just a little colour is added to brighten Nairobi and all of a sudden your little homophobic egos can't stand it.....I am tired.”

The paintings are organised by Switch-a-Roo, a cultural exchange programme between French and Kenyan artists.

It aims to take art closer to the people and create a sense of ownership in communities through painting.

The artists have also produced works in Nairobi's poor neighbourhoods of Kibera and Mathare.