Peter Njane was still in college when he first started volunteering with Ishtar, a community-based organization in Nairobi, Kenya. During that time in 2003, the organization was little more than a group of individuals getting together and discussing issues around being LGBTQ in the East African country.
“I would come and help organize events,” Njane told NBC Out. “At that particular time the organization wasn’t that active.”
Today, Njane is the organization’s director, and Ishtar is a full-fledged community health care clinic focused on health issues pertaining to men who have sex with men (MSM). Ishtar also has the distinction of being the first health care clinic in Kenya run by gay men that serves a population primarily of gay men.
“Everyone is from the community — from the receptionist, the nurse, even the health care provider,” Njane said. “We were happy that we were the first community health clinic that gave services run by the community and for the community.”
Stigma against the LGBTQ community in Kenya is high, with sex acts between two men still criminalized under the Kenyan Penal Code. And in 2016, a Kenyan court upheld the act of forcible anal examinations to determine one’s sexual orientation.
Discrimination for the community can be especially challenging when seeking health care, particularly as it pertains to one’s sexual activity or seeking treatment for HIV. Read more via NBC