Four Arrested Over the Murder of Prominent Kenyan LGBTQ+ Activist

Edwin Chilobawas

Photo credit: Edwin Chilobawas via Instagram account

Four Arrested Over the Murder of Prominent Kenyan LGBTQ+ Activist

Prominent Kenyan LGBTQ activist Edwin Chiloba was found by Kenyan authorities on January 3rd.

Kenyan authorities have arrested four suspects over the killing of prominent LGBTQ activist and fashion designer Edwin Chiloba, whose mutilated body was found stuffed in a metal trunk last week.

On Friday (January 6th), authorities arrested Jackton Odhiambo, a 24-year-old freelance photographer who was reportedly a friend of Chiloba. The next day, three more suspects were taken into custody for allegedly disposing of Chiloba's corpse. Last Tuesday (January 3rd), riders near Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu county told police that they saw a metal box dumped by the roadside from a vehicle with a concealed number plate. That metal box contained the remains of Chiloba, who has his eyes gouged out. He was also wrapped in a woman’s dress.

Resila Onyango, a police spokesperson, said that the motive for Chiloba's death was unknown and experts were investigating the issue.

In a statement, the Kenya Human Rights Commission said that the death of LGBTQ+ activists was becoming a common trend.

"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 stated on Twitter."

Although research has shown that homosexuality is increasingly becoming accepted in Kenya, many Kenyans still view it as abominable. In 2019, Kenya's High Court upheld laws that criminalized gay sex, and in recent years, Kenya's film board banned two films for their portrayals of gay lives. According to galck+, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, 53% of LGBTQ+ people in Kenya are physically assaulted, and those assaults are only worsened by Kenya's laws against homosexuality, which perpetuate acts of violence. The same report also stated that only 29% of LGBTQ+ persons report an assault to the police because they are often re-victimized if they report crimes committed against them. The death of Chiloba has triggered an outrage among several activists, who are demanding a thorough investigation.

Asides from being a fashion designer and model, Chiloba was a leading LGBTQ+ activist who used his platform to speak out about inclusivity and gay rights in Kenya. An Instagram post that he made in the December, sums up his legacy. “My movement is for everyone,” the deceased wrote at the time. “It's about inclusion. And if I am going to fight what I have been marginalized for, I am going to fight for all marginalized people.”