Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba found dead in metal box

Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba found dead in metal box

Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba found dead in metal box.

Edwin Chiloba, a well-known LGBTQ activist, was discovered murdered in western Kenya on Tuesday, according to local authorities. His body was found put inside of a metal box and showed signs of a severe attack.

One suspect has been detained by police in connection with the alleged murder, which has prompted outrage and demands for justice from friends and rights organizations.

Outside the town of Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County, a village leader pointed to the box holding the body that had been pushed from a car. County commissioner Eddyson Nyale made a remark.

According to Nyale, the suspect, 24-year-old Jactone Odhiambo, was detained after being spotted out and about with Chiloba. According to him, the arrest was made in order to “collect information on the circumstances of the death” and support the hunt for the mysterious car.

“We don’t know for now why he was killed that way,” Resila Onyango, a police spokeswoman, told the Associated Press. “Experts are handling the matter.”

Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba found dead in metal box.

Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba found dead in metal box.

Chiloba was a popular figure in the Kenyan LGBTQ community and a fashion designer with his own clothing line, ChilobaDesigns, on Instagram.

He was a rising human rights advocate who frequently emphasized the value of diversity. His close friends characterized him as a fearless, ardent individual who adored people and style and used his work as a platform for action. The news of his death provoked widespread grief and requests for authorities to bring charges against those guilty on social media.

Kenyan LGBTQ rights activist Edwin Chiloba found dead in metal box.

“This is a frightening crime but it’s becoming common in Kenya — evidence of a growing epidemic of violence in the country,” the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a nongovernmental organization, posted on Twitter, citing the slaying of 25-year-old Sheila Adhiambo Lumumba, a nonbinary l£sbian, in April.

The KHRC requested that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations “perform speedy investigations and guarantee the killers are arrested and convicted.”

In Kenya, where conservative Christians have significant political sway, LGBTQ rights organizations have only made minor progress. Gay s*x is illegal under a section of the penal code that dates back to British colonial control and carries punishments of up to 14 years in jail.

While it is rarely enforced, Human Rights Watch said the law contributes to a “climate of discrimination and violence.”

The Kenyan High Court declined to overturn the statute in May 2019. In an interview with CNN just before the decision, Kenya’s then-President Uhuru Kenyatta called homosexuality “a nonissue.” William Ruto, the recently elected president of Kenya, has also spoken out against LGBTQ rights in interviews, claiming they are at odds with Christian principles.

Friend of Chiloba and co-founder of the LGBTQ rights organization Queer Republic MaryLize Biubwa claimed that Chiloba had previously been attacked twice in the previous year, first in July and once in September.

“He was full of life; it’s so sad to think of his life in this way at the moment, because he was a lifegiver,” Biubwa said.

“His fight is not just for him, it’s for everyone who is queer, who is different, who is criminalized by the society we live in,” Biubwa said, noting that after the attack, she fears for her own safety. “Chiloba could’ve really been any queer person, and that’s the saddest thing.”

Her fears are shared by many others. In Nairobi, peer educator Nyakwar Okinda, 28, claimed that he was assaulted in 2021 and that friends are afraid to come out as gay, “particularly because of occurrences like these.”

“Don’t we have rights? Chiloba’s case is not the first one,” he said. “We die, and they tell us justice will be served, but they forget. This makes us wonder if we have rights.”

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