Since the year 2012 through partnering and exposure from different partners working with religious on religious issue in western Kenya i.e. IAM, CRIC, Other-sheep, Kisumu Initiative for positive empowerment (LGBTI Church) the organization realized the importance of engaging with the religious leaders as a form of creating safe space and advocating for tolerant and acceptance within the religion fraternity.
This was also important to the LGBTI community to embrace spirituality and sexuality, During the two years it has been very clear for the process of engagement have been through a “clergy meeting clergy concept ” to discuss the Theology in relation to LGBTI.
But for the past one year through partnership with PEMA Kenya we have demystify this approach by LGBTI organization also meeting and reaching out to the religious leaders, this process has worked out clearly and the religious leaders are embracing the process through different methodology i.e. Facilitative dialogue, theory of change, religion and human right, love and companion, health approach. The main reason for the organization to engage with the religious leaders is to offer the two sword approach one to enhance the spiritual aspect of LGBTI individual to attend churches and mosque and consider spirituality as a being to be part of them, also to enlighten the religious leaders to preach the gospel of love and companion to our community also create tolerance and acceptance within the religious community.
Being that we are also working within the geographical region of rural, peri- urban and urban which is deep rooted with tradition, culture and religion, it is very important to engage with the religious leaders since they are the source of stigma and discrimination within the community hence they serve a bigger population within the community as the opinion leaders, policy makers and role models.
To engage with them we will be reaching out to policy developers, opinion leaders and role model within the community and through these we will be creating a safer environment of the LGBTI to journey with his/her spirituality and sexuality without being stigmatized and discriminated within the community. This will build the self esteem of individual LGBTI to feel free to journey with his aspect of spirituality and sexuality without feeling discriminated or stigmatize within western Kenya. The organization has engaged through forums and training with different denomination i.e. Anglican, catholic, Protestants, indigenous churches and Muslim within the region.
In June 2015 the organization organized a five days convening in Kisumu with different religious leaders from Anglican, Pentecostal, indigenous churches and partners organization who are working on religious engagement this include GALCK, and IAM,PEMA,
NYARWEK currently is working with 103 religious leaders 40 TOTs and it has developed a religious leader’s manual.