The Free to be Me Alliance stands in solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community in Kenya and with all those mourning the loss of Edwin Kiprotich Kiptoo, commonly known as Edwin Chiloba.
We recognize this is a difficult time for queer activists, the family and friends of Edwin, and those who admired and supported his work as an activist, fashion designer, and fashion icon. His work and vision can only be described as bold, brave, colorful, and fresh as he challenged the traditional ways fashion is perceived. Edwin embodied the freedom that we aspire to see in many parts of the world where sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are shunned or suppressed by restrictive laws or socio-cultural and religious beliefs.
The Kenyan LGBTIQ+ movement
We stand with Q-Initiative and Galck+, who are part of our wider group of Kenyan partners, as they work alongside the country’s security services investigating this brutal murder. Edwin Chiloba deserves justice.
Sadly, it is barely a year since the tragic death of Sheila Lumumba, another member of Kenya’s LGBTIQ+ community. Sheila’s life was brought to a senseless end by a homophobic attack. We call upon community members to be vigilant in ensuring their safety and protection as the threat of violence abounds in both physical and online spaces.
In addition, we call for conversations that foster understanding, learning, healing, and discovery between the Kenyan LGBTIQ+ movement, its allies and society at large. Conversations that engage with diverse perspectives and try to counter misinformation and disinformation. Furthermore, we encourage discourse that guarantees the protection of all rights and freedoms and access to justice as stipulated by the country’s constitution and by universal principles of human rights for the country’s LGBTIQ+ community, who are active citizens of their country. Edwin was an active citizen who wanted to use his skills to advocate for the right of marginalized groups within his country.
The Free to be Me Alliance affirms our support and solidarity with our Kenyan colleagues and partners as we remember and say the name Edwin Chiloba.