A posed portrait of Gregory (not his real name), a Ugandan refugee living in the Kakuma refugee camp in north western Kenya. Gregory was forced to leave his community after he and his partner were witnessed having sex. “My uncle was angry about it. He decided to abduct me, with the help of some of my family members. They took me to a mud house in the village for two days. I was screaming for help, mercy. Cattle keeper heard me, broke in to rescue me. I ran away the same evening. I had no other option, but to cross into Kenya. Gregory was tested HIV positive in Kenya and has found that accessing medication and adequate diet is a challenge as a refugee unable to work and obtain funds to maintain his health. “Due to poor feeding, the medication makes you dizzy. You wake up weak, feeling dizzy. You feel your head is spinning around, because last night, you didn't eat, because the doctors tell you should swallow the ARVs when you're going to sleep. Then, in the morning, you take suppository, so you wake up with the dizziness of the ARVs.  And you take that when you don't even know what you're going to eat. You have to stay in the house. The house is hot. You're dehydrating. So, makes you weak in that way. “If you go to the clinic to pick up some medication, you walk in the scorching sun, because this is a semi desert. The degrees are very high. 40+. You walk an hour. You dehydrate. Then, an hour back to where you live. So, it's kind of frustrating. Transportation, poor feeding, the environment. Everything is challenging. He says the conditions are made even more challenging because of the stigma of being HIV positive. “People discriminate people who are HIV positive, and mostly, in Africa, they see that as a curse. They even call it bad luck.” Kenya, October 2017. 
The Kakuma Refugee Camp is located in north western Kenya and houses more than 180,000 refugees. The camp is located in a semi-arid desert with temperatures over 30C. LGBTQI+ refugees are a minority; approximately 190 total with 120 Ugandans, and are often targeted by the wider refugee community. The camp, run by the UNHCR, provides food and medical support, however rations meant for a month typically last just two weeks. Treatment facilities are located miles away, and transport is not provided, posing a challenge for those with HIV / AIDS requiring life-saving medication.
While in many places, there has been great progress in recent years in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, including an increasing recognition of same-sex marriage, nearly 2.8 billion people live in countries where identifying as LGBTI is subject to rampant discrimination, criminalization, and even death. Same-sex acts are illegal in 76 countries; in some countries, this can result in being sentenced to death. Behind these statistics, there individuals with unique, often harrowing stories. Where Love Is Illegal was created to tell those stories. 
Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change.

Gregory /

“1st July, I was at a friend’s party at his house. I was having sex with my partner in one of the rooms. Someone from my community bumped into the room and saw us. The next morning, started telling people in the community, that last night, he saw me doing an illegal act which is prohibited in our traditions. It reached to my family. The church were a platform. I could not leave my house, because the community elders had reported me to police.

The 5th July, my uncle got home by June, decided to up that community, with the help of some of my family members. They took me to the village, in a mud house, they locked me up, and called me a devil. That a devil’s supposed to be locked up. They left me there.

On the evening of 7th July, as I was in that mud house screaming for help, a cattle kid heard me, and broke in to help me. I couldn’t tell him what had happened. Instead, I told him, some people wanted to sacrifice me. I ran away that evening, and went to my best friend. He knew what had happened, so he gave me some money to go hide. I went to Malaba.

15th July, I was in the motel. I have sex with someone I met in Malaba. When the police came knocking on the door, I had to escape through the window. I had no other option, but to cross into Kenya.”

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