The Berlin Gay Pride Parade: Is Kenya headed there?
In June, I was in Berlin the capital of Germany and decided to attend the Christopher Street Day. because it was summer we decided with my colleagues who were with me for the IIJ course to go and see what the parade was all about.
It was a gays, lesbians and gay rights supporters day.A gay pride parade that attracted about half a million revelers.
The Berliners came out early waving the six color flags,a symbol of the gay community world over. I had debated with friends for long whether to join the march or not. But my journalistic curiosity got the better of me.
We took a train ride to one of the stages that we had been informed the gay pride march will pass through to the final stage at the Brandenburger Tor, the gate where entry into West Berlin or East Berlin was possible during the cold war era.
Having come from a conservative society I expected the pride march to be something small,like we see in Kenya. Armed with my camera we alighted from the train but the station was too crowded. But we later squeezed through the mass of people.
And behold on the main street paraded for all to see were big trucks with loud music coming from mega speakers passing in the middle. On top were gays and lesbian society members dressed in multicolored out fits.
Some gay men wore dresses and kissed with their lovers on the streets. Lesbians kissed with their partners and openly fondle each other breasts. To me and some of my colleagues we were with this was a shocker.
A couple of gay men one dressed as a policeman pulling a handcuffed lover in chains served to explain the lack of freedom for this group of people who were here do agitate for more freedom.
But throughout the streets hundreds of thousands of people cheered them on. It was the day for a special group of people. Some had banners written “I was born this way” others posed the question ‘Is this my world too?”
I had only read in newspapers stories about men kissing. A few minutes into the march my camera lens focused on two old men kissing…and yes they seemed to be enjoying it.
We later talked to a gay right supporter who put matters into perspective: “Don’t be so shocked I know in Africa you are still fighting for political freedom,but we have it here and now we fight for personal rights.”
And the march continued through various streets and beer was in plenty. The mood was gay and the summer sun made the event even more colorful.
As we followed the parade we kept on wondering whether Kenyans and indeed Africans are headed to this kind of freedom. Germany is one of the country that has legalized gay unions and even the mayor of the capital, Berlin is himself a gay.
The half a million people who attended the parade were not all gay. Some of the people we talked to had come as a form of solidarity with the gay community. And beers was flowing freely and rather than take it in a negative light the city has cashed on the event to attract more tourists to the city.
And at the Brandenburger Gate which is in itself the symbol of German freedom the gays danced the night off. Some of the scenes we saw may not be palatable to Kenyans,some of them were indeed gross and I can’t even post the photos here.
The Kenyans scenario
Although it sounds unimaginable that we can have such a parade in Nairobi but we could probably be headed in that direction. Last week Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in an article published by The Star newspaper advised lobby groups to debate gay rights arguing that they are human rights.
Mutunga was speaking in Uganda during the launch of a FIDA office in Kampala. “The other frontier of marginalisation is the gay right movement. Gay rights are human rights. Here am simply confining my statement in the context of human rights and social justice paradigm and avoiding the controversies that exist in our constitutions and various legislation,” said Mutunga.
“We have succeeded in demanding our rights of movement and association although we cannot take them for granted. We should see less of the workshopping in hotels, less of flip charts and tooth picks as we move to the country sides and make sure our people own and protect the human rights and social justice messages,” Mutunga said.
But such calls for rights for the gays in Kenya may not go down well with a majority of Kenyans. One of the reasons why the churches opposed the new constitution was what they termed as a window of opportunity to allow gay marriages.