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LEHA is a grassroots organisation which supports LBQ women and non-binary people in rural central Kenya. They realised that the people they were working with faced high levels of violence but did not trust the agencies which provided support. This meant that survivors sometimes could not access vital healthcare and had little chance of justice. It also meant that no evidence was being captured about these instances of violence, the places which were hotspots for violence or about repeat offenders within the community. 

Over the last year we have supported LEHA to work both with local authorities and service providers, and with the community to address these issues. 

Working closely with the Ministry of Health and relevant key stakeholders, LEHA has delivered briefing sessions to professionals who are most likely to come into contact with an LBQ person who has been a victim of violence, such as bar owners, police, healthcare workers and gender-based violence specialists. These sessions aim to discourage discrimination and increase awareness of the specific vulnerabilities faced by LBQ women. 

The group has also worked with local hospitals to allow direct referrals for LBQ women who have been victims of violence and require access to LBQ-friendly support services, including those provided by LEHA and other local LGBT+ groups. 

Alongside this, LEHA have worked to increase the confidence of the local LBQ community in seeking support following violence and in reporting crimes which have been committed against them. LEHA is also partnering with Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to provide paralegal services for free for community members who are taking their cases to court. 

They delivered four legal clinics, which were attended in total by 100 LBQ women during the last quarter of 2022. These sessions provided attendees with information about their rights, how to report cases of violence to the police and where to receive healthcare and psychological support. They also provided information about collating evidence of issues over time, for example of domestic violence or cyber-stalking.  

Lastly, LEHA brought together community members and local support agencies, including local government officials and paralegals. These sessions enabled a frank discussion of violence hotpots, potential repeat offenders and barriers to reporting. Information from these sessions allowed the development of a joint Violence Response Mechanism, with information about types and cycles of violence, how to respond to violence and how to address violations.  

As a result of this work, over the last three months LEHA and its partners have responded to and addressed 53 reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence, including physical violence, verbal abuse and online abuse. 

One of the paralegals who provided advice to community members through the project said: “Having to live through the fear of violence for who I am is scary enough, but living in a country where I have to fight for equitable access to healthcare and a just justice system is inhumane. I will fight with all I have to make sure the people who come after me won’t have to convince anyone that they are human too.” 

LEHA’s Programs Manager said: “LEHA continues to advocate for a safe, conducive and enabling environment for LBQ people to access affordable and equitable health services, while offering information, skills and knowledge to empower them. We will continue to create an environment that celebrates freedom, justice and autonomy whilst collecting, responding to and documenting security reports.”

This project is part of our Fighting the Reversing Tide Phase Two programme.