Bodies at the Border: Hostility, Visibility and the Digital Voices of LGBT+ Refugees in Kenya

Project status


In March 2014, the first group of LGBT+ Ugandan asylum seekers in Kenya made themselves known to the UNHCR. Their existence made visible a significant geo-political tension: Kenya’s domestic legislation does not recognise LGBT+ rights, while the UNHCR – through its mandate of international protection – does. In an effort to resolve this, the UNHCR established what can be understood as a parallel legal regime, providing financial support, safe housing for LGBT+ claimants and fast-tracking them for resettlement. Yet, in the wake of ongoing LGBT+ persecution in East Africa, COVID-19 and diminishing resettlement slots, this "short-term solution" model is no longer viable and is contested. Bodies at the Border’s primary aim is to explore the everyday experiences of LGBT+ refugees, particularly their efforts to navigate informality and insecurity within urban Nairobi. It also seeks to unpack what their increasingly visible presence means both for Kenya and for global protection mechanisms.

Research team

Dr Barbara Bompani, University of Edinburgh; Dr B Camminga, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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