Nairobi - Post Report Question and Answers

Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I wanted to answer this question above all. I am in a same-sex relationship. I moved to Nairobi to be with my Kenyan partner. For privileged people like ourselves, it is not particularly hard to be gay in Nairobi. There is a queer scene, there has even been a little LGBT film festival for the past several years. We know many queer Kenyans, a lot of them artists. For the most part, everyone lives their lives. It is true that you have to be discreet. It is not a good idea to kiss your partner on the street, etc. (honestly, I don't think Kenyans like that even between hetero couples - PDA isn't done). It is not against the law to BE gay. You will not be jailed because someone says you are gay, but same-sex sexual behavior is criminalized (i.e. they have to catch you in the act). And there is not much social acceptance among the general population. So this makes the lives of many less-privileged people living with less privacy very challenging. The issue has not been as politicized in Kenya as it has been in Uganda or Tanzania. There are some high-profile homophobes (notably, the culture minister, who likes to ban films with queer content, etc) but it's not discussed that much on the national stage. If you want to learn more about gay life in Nairobi, I have some recommendations on art/culture you can check out: the Afroqueer podcast; the artist collective The Nest, which made a beautiful documentary called Stories of Our Lives; the film Rafiki, which went to Cannes. Those are about Kenyan queer people. For expats, you'll be fine. You won't find the gay scene that you will in many US cities, but you will not be unsafe. - Apr 2021


NO. - Nov 2020


It's illegal to be LGBT here. I haven't had a lot of exposure to the local scene, though I'd think in a city this big, there has got to be a healthy amount of LGBT somewhere in Nairobi. We had some gay friends come to visit, and they never ran in to any trouble during their time in-country. - Dec 2018


Not really. There is a strong prejudice against alternative lifestyles and there are legal ramifications for same-sex relationships. It's my biggest disappointment here. - Jul 2016


No. - Sep 2015


Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, however, there are a few in the expat community. Be prepared to be homebodies or to pretend when going out. - Jul 2015


I think so. - Dec 2014


Not sure. - Jun 2014


Kenyans are fairly tolerant of gays and lesbians, and you can definitely find a good scene. - Mar 2014


On the surface, no. - Jul 2013


There is a gay community here BUT Kenyans as a whole are not accepting of homosexuality. Some believe its a curse. Some believe that homosexuals should be put to death. - Jun 2013


I haven't heard of any problems. - Aug 2012


Probably not the best. - Dec 2011


Same-gender intercourse on the local laws is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. Homosexuality and gay people are ostracized and looked down upon by the wider community, but not the embassy community (even though both are present in the embassy and local community). The HIV rate here is very high (estimates are as high as 30% among MSM and other demographics, and 7% among the general population). We do know gay couples in the embassy community. - Dec 2011


Kenyans are, in general, not accepting of gay and lesbian people. - Dec 2010


It's conservative here. but I have one gay friend who apparently lives fine despite being obviously gay. - Jul 2009


We suspect it’s not the best. - Feb 2008


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