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LGBTQ+ People In Kenya Fall Prey to Social Media Extortion and Blackmail

National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) says there is an increased experience on social media sites or dating apps of being “catfished” – as using a fake identity to lure someone online is known – by people intending to extort money is common among members of the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya. With section 162 of the colonial-era penal code criminalising sexual acts deemed “unnatural”, there are fertile grounds for the practice to thrive. Activists want social media companies to take action to stamp out the extortion. Njeri Gateru, executive director of NGLHRC, says: “The existence of laws that criminalise homosexuality create a landscape where anyone attracted to someone of the same gender is seen to belong to a lesser place in society, and as a criminal. That creates room for people to take advantage of queer individuals.” According to Gateru, cases of blackmail and extortion are increasing, methods are becoming more sophisticated, and while this type of crime used to be limited to Nairobi, it has now spread to other areas of the country.