The relationship between Kenya and LGBT individuals is a frequent question for international LGBTQ travelers, particularly with regards to travel safety.
Although Kenya has a long-established tourist industry largely centered on safaris, a vibrant cultural scene, and a modern, digital economy, its legislation and attitudes towards relationships are conservative and the issue of LGBTQ people is considered taboo.
However, a person’s preferences and identity are their own private business and many LGBT individuals and couples travel to Kenya and thoroughly enjoy their trip.
This Travel Guide has all the information needed by LGBTQ visitors to travel to Kenya safely and have a great experience.
Advice for LGBTQ Travelers Visiting Kenya
When it comes to Kenya, LGBT travel is much like any other country. Visitors from the LGBTQ community should book the things that they want to do, whether that is a safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve or relaxing at the beach.
Most travel companies report that they have never experienced any issues with organizing itineraries in Kenya for couples of the same gender.
Even so, it is important to bear in mind that in Kenya, LGBTQ rights are not guaranteed and there are certain things that it is best to avoid doing in order to prevent problems.
Booking Accommodation in Kenya as an LGBT Traveler
When booking accommodation at safari lodges, camps, and hotels in Kenya, there is usually no problem in an LGBTQ couple booking a room with a double bed. The safari industry in particular generally accepts such bookings with understanding and acceptance.
As a rule, LGBTQ visitors can expect a greater degree of tolerance than people living in Kenya as their business is valued. If staying at western hotel chains like the Hilton, attitudes towards LGBT guests is similar to in western countries.
When it comes to booking accommodation, the best advice for LGBTQ travelers would be to book the type of room that they want.
Avoid Public Displays of Affection
Despite the conservative attitudes towards LGBTQ relationships, visitors to Kenya should have nothing to worry about as long as they do not engage in public displays of affection. This is equally true for non-LGBTQ travelers.
All visitors should avoid the following while in public:
- Holding hands
- Inappropriate physical contact
Even kissing as a greeting, as is common in some European countries, is strange to most Kenyans and may be misinterpreted as inappropriate.
Apply Online for the Kenya eVisa
This tip may not be related to orientation or gender, but it is good general advice for travel to Kenya, whether the visitor is LGBTQ or otherwise.
The Kenyan eVisa is an electronic visa that can be obtained online. The streamlined digital system eliminates the need to go to an embassy or consulate to apply. Instead, travelers can obtain permission to enter Kenya from the comfort of their own home.
Each LGBTQ individual planning to visit the country must complete their own Kenya eVisa application form online.
This electronic visa is only available to citizens of certain countries. Find out which nationalities are eligible by checking the Kenya eVisa requirements.
LGBT Rights in Kenya
Like many African countries, Kenya’s laws and attitudes to LGBT relationships are highly conservative. However, gender and preferences are as varied among the Kenyan population as anywhere else in the world and there are LGBT activists, particularly in Nairobi, who challenge the law and traditional attitudes.
Conservative Kenyan attitudes are not limited to members of the LGBT community. Public displays of affection are considered inappropriate behavior regardless of the individuals’ gender or orientation.
By avoiding holding hands and kissing in public, it is easy to avoid unwanted attention and enjoy the visit to the country.
LGBTQ Laws and Legislation in Kenya
Relations between two men are illegal due to a law inherited from the United Kingdom before Kenya gained its independence in the 1960s. Unlike in the UK, this law has never been updated.
Although the law does not specify that the same is true for relationships between female partners, it has sometimes been interpreted as such.
Similarly, there is no law specifically against people whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth. However, individuals who openly express an alternate gender identity may face discrimination.
However, there is little risk for LGBT travel safety. These laws rarely come into play against foreign visitors. Firstly, locals will not recognize LGBTQ couples unless they engage in public displays of affection. Secondly, it is normal to look the other way for LGBTQ tourists due to the value that is placed on their business.