An investigation conducted by Open Democracy and published on 30th June 2021, revealed multiple aid-funded health facilities were administering conversion therapy to clients seeking services. The article titled “Aid donors to investigate anti-gay ‘therapy’ cites an interview with one of our staff who allegedly said they could offer “treatment” to change same-sex attraction.
The purported actions of the said staff go contrary to our long history of advocating for the rights of key populations in Kenya and beyond.
In a recent meeting with CDC-Kenya, Evans Jerry states how LVCT Health had grown him from a young age to the present age.
“I joined LVCT Health at the age of 23 years. Today I am 38 years old, thanks to the safe space health services and support that LVCT provides to key population and LGBTI community”, says Evans.
Over 90,000 key populations have received comprehensive HIV prevention services and at no time have we received feedback that suggests any form of conversion therapy.
For over 20 years, LVCT Health has grown to be the largest Kenyan-led organization serving the largest cohort of key populations. Over 90,000 key populations across 13 focus counties in Kenya have received comprehensive HIV prevention services during the last eight years. At no time have we received feedback that suggests any form of conversion therapy.
LVCT Health responded to the investigation’s findings and launched a separate investigation on the claims which resulted in the termination of employment of the alleged staff found to have engaged in unethical practice contrary to the organization’s standard of practice.
Since the reported incidence, LVCT Health conducted a comprehensive corrective action plan (CAP) in partnership with key donors to address the key areas of weakness in the program informed by the incident and feedback from key population representatives.
The key elements of the CAP and the actions taken were:
- Taking disciplinary action on staff implicated in conversion therapy – immediate disciplinary action was taken in line with the HR policies resulting in separation with the affected staff.
- Sensitization of staff to understand human rights, stigma and discrimination, and conversion therapy – 401 staff were trained on the PEPFAR gender and sexual diversity training. All staff were trained on conversion therapy and the provision of stigma-free service delivery. The policy and hiring practices have been updated to include principles of non-discrimination in personnel contracts
- Engage/hire more KPs in positions within the KP program- the KP program is staffed with a KP liaison officer, KP field officers, outreach workers, and peer educators from the community.
- Update LVCT Health policies to address human rights, stigma, and discrimination – Safeguarding and whistleblowing policy was reviewed to include “prevention of discrimination and conversion therapy”. The updated policy was rolled out and signed by all staff and submitted to HR
- Address weak community feedback and engagement mechanisms at the organizational level
- Introduced a KP liaison position held by a member of the community to ensure continuous engagement with the community
- Several meetings were held with the KP organizations that informed the CAP
- Improve feedback mechanisms e.g., suggestion boxes
- Community advisory boards activated in all KP sites and now meet quarterly
- Placement of client’s rights and whistleblowing contacts in all project supported health facilities
I joined LVCT Health at the age of 23 years. Today I am 38 years old, thanks to the safe space health services and support that LVCT provides to key population and LGBTI community”, Evans.
LVCT Health remains committed to the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations through the provision of quality stigma-free health services. We recognize that conversion therapy and other negative practices can occur at any time in large service delivery programs such as those run by LVCT Health. We have prioritized routine and sustained quality improvement measures to minimize their recurrence. We are also working with NASCOP (National AIDS & STI Control Program) the national HIV program, to provide active leadership in monitoring and supervision of our programs across the country to ensure risks are identified early and addressed holistically, involving key stakeholders, as necessary.
“As an organization that has been on the forefront in the creation of safe spaces, provision of quality services, and development of KP/LGBT training manuals and standard operations procedures (SOPs) in Kenya, we strongly condemn any form of conversion therapy among the KP community. We are committed to ensuring such practices do not recur in the organization and reverse the gains made in KP programming’”, Dr. Lilian Otiso, the Executive Director, LVCT Health.