Larry Misedah, Kenyan Gay Rights Activist, Tells His Story

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Larry Misedah and Cary Alan Johnson traveled to San Francisco to attend a reception hosted by our friend John Newmeyer. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect IGLHRC friends old and new. While they were in the area, Larry and Cary were interviewed by the Bay Area Reporter,, and the radio show Out in the Bay. Bay Area Reporter Kenyan ex-pat aims to help gay countrymen KALW-FM, San Francisco Out in the Bay - Africa LGBT Rights[audio Gay Africans flee persecution Photos from the event are also available in our Picasa Web Album

Larry's Story

Larry Misedah is a Kenyan gay rights activist who began his work as a human rights defender in 2004 when he joined Ishtar MSM, one of the Kenya’s first organizations to provide health services to men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2007, Larry came out publicly at the World Social Forum in Nairobi and became the spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda’s (SMUG) first media campaign. After becoming a visible leader in the East African gay community, Larry was banished from his family. Then a student at Kenyatta University, his academic future was threatened when his family refused to continue paying his tuition. Threats of violence on the campus became unbearable. Larry was forced to flee Kenya for eight months. Homosexuality remains criminalized in Kenya and is punishable by up to 14 years of imprisonment. Upon his return, Larry continued to struggle within Kenya’s hostile legal and political environment. Homophobic stigma, which remains high, caused Larry to be a subject of continued discrimination and violence. Nonetheless he persisted in LGBT human rights advocacy:

  • In September 2007, Larry collaborated with International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) staff to draft East and Central Africa’s first-ever Declaration on Transgender Rights.
  • In 2009, Larry represented Kenya at a convening of LGBT activists engaged in HIV prevention work for MSM at the African AIDS conference in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Subsequently Larry worked with IGLHRC on a capacity building and exchange program that brought LGBT activists from Tanzania to his organization, SMUG, in Kenya to learn, exchange ideas and plan strategy for effective HIV programming and LGBT liberation.

Larry was granted asylum by the U.S. government in December 2010 with assistance from IGLHRC and other international organizations. Larry Misedah currently resides in Houston, Texas.