According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the LGBT community in Kenya often face discrimination and stigma when seeking medical health care services in public hospitals. Most health care providers in public hospitals are known for breaching their privacy and confidentiality by exposing the sexual orientation of their patients to other colleagues at the facilities. The health care providers are usually not friendly and hardly understand their sexual and reproductive health needs.
Research suggests that the LGBT community in Kenya have reduced access to medical care compared to heterosexuals because the majority of them have had experience of homophobic health professionals. This may make them less inclined to seek medical help, or they may wait longer before they seek help. Many health workers in public health facilities claim that they treat everyone the same, but this usually means that they treat everyone as heterosexual.
Whether or not individuals personally disagree with the sexual orientation and sexual practices of the LGBT community, they have to understand that every human being has the right to health care as well as sexual health. Denying someone access to health care services because of their sexual orientation will be denying the person his/her human rights making it a violation of human rights.
According to article 27 of the Kenyan constitution:
Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law, Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms, The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth and finally a person shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against another person on any of the grounds specified or contemplated in the above clause.
Article 43(1) of the Kenyan constitution also states that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.
For Kenya to achieve one of Vision 2030 goals, which is to ensure access to health care by all Kenyan citizens, the Ministry of Health needs to take the initiative to make the LGBT community feel welcome and safe in public health facilities and access health care services free from stigma and discrimination.
Michael Okun Oliech is a communication officer at dance4life Kenya.