Kenyan police have discovered the body of prominent LGBTQ rights campaigner Edwin Chiloba stuffed inside a metal box in the west of the country, according to local media sources.
Motorbike taxi riders alerted police after they saw the box dumped by the roadside from a vehicle with a concealed number plate, The Standard and The Daily Nation newspapers reported on Friday, quoting police sources.
Chiloba’s remains were found on Tuesday near Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu county, where he ran his fashion business, independent rights group the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) said.
“He was brutally killed & dumped in the area by unknown assailants,” KHRC said on Twitter. “It is truly worrisome that we continue to witness escalation in violence targeting LGBTQ+ Kenyans.”
Kenya National Police Service spokesperson Resila Onyango said she would comment at a later time. Uasin Gishu County Commander Ayub Gitonga Ali declined to comment.
“Words cannot even explain how we as a community are feeling right now. Edwin Chiloba was a fighter, fighting relentlessly to change the hearts and minds of society when it came to LGBTQ+ lives,” GALCK+, a Kenyan gay rights group, said on Twitter.
Under a British colonial-era law, gay sex in Kenya is punishable by 14 years in prison. The law is rarely enforced but discrimination is common.
Research suggests acceptance of homosexuality is gradually increasing in Kenya, but it remains a taboo subject for many. The country’s film board has banned two films for their portrayals of gay lives in recent years.
Last June, a number of queer Kenyan men told Al Jazeera that they had developed a phobia of public hospitals and were willing to try risky alternatives, because of targeted discrimination by doctors.