By Gatonye Gathura
After a rebuff over gay rights during his July visit to Nairobi, US President Barack Obama has shelved soft diplomacy for American dollars.
This year Kenya receives $456 million from the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) with clear emphasis on promotion of the rights of gays, lesbians and prostitutes.
The amount is the highest among all the 27 African Pepfar funds receiving-countries in the current financial year.
According to the Pepfar 2016 fiscal plan for Kenya, beneficiaries will be mainly civil societies and activists advocating for the rights of gays, prostitutes and drug users.
Preference will be given to organizations which put gays, lesbians or prostitutes in positions of decision making in matters concerning their groups.
On prompting from President Obama, during a joint press conference in Nairobi in July, President Uhuru said gay rights was a non-issue with the country having more pressing economic and social matters to attend to.
But President Uhuru may either have been saying what most Kenyans wanted to hear or he lacked proper briefing.
For a number of years, sections of his government have been working with donors and lobbyist on gay rights as captured by Pepfar in its financial plan.
With US involvement, Pepfar says Kenya has put in place policies and guidelines that govern programming around these populations.
“There is strong Government of Kenya leadership in sensitizing law enforcement and health providers to create a supportive environment for the right of these groups.”
Government departments involved in this exercise include the Ministry of Health, the Judiciary and the police.
Pepfar also promises strong support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Currently the fund is distributing a US$ 10.5 million kitty to10 African countries, among them Kenya, to facilitate the fight for gay rights.
The current fiscal plan reflects the US HIV policy shift in recent years which puts emphasis on high consumption of biomedical products as opposed to sensitization and awareness creation.
Such include ARVs, condoms and lubricants, PrePex the male circumcision device, needles for drug injectors, methadone, testing kits and other peripherals.
This seems to be in contradiction with the Kenya HIV Prevention Revolution Road Map. Countdown to 2030, which has sensitization and awareness as a major component.