By Damian Zane
Police in Kenya are investigating the death of young fashion designer and LGBTQ activist Edwin Chiloba after his body was found dumped in a metal box by the roadside near the town of Eldoret.
The motive for the killing is unknown, a police spokesperson is quoted in the Star newspaper as saying.
But rights organisations in Kenya, where gay sex is outlawed, are linking it to his sexuality.
One group estimates that more than half of LGBTQ Kenyans have been assaulted.
“Words cannot even explain how we as a community are feeling right now. Another soul lost due to hate. You will be missed,” rights organisation galck+ posted on Twitter.
“Edwin’s death reminds us that queer bodies continue to be under attack all over the country,” the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission wrote on Instagram.
Tributes on social media describe Chiloba, who was in his mid-20s, as “an amazing human” and an “iconic fashion designer”.
Last month Chiloba wrote on Instagram that he was “going to fight for all marginalised people”, saying that he himself had been marginalised.
He “spread love wherever he went, was bold about his existence as a queer man and encouraged many others to do the same,” Chris Makena, an activist and friend of Chiloba, told the BBC.
He had moved to Eldoret from the capital, Nairobi, in 2019 to study fashion and was beginning to make a name for himself in design, another friend said.
His body was discovered on Wednesday.
A witness is quoted as saying that someone in a vehicle without a number plate was seen leaving a metal box at the side of the road.
It was reported to the police, who went to open the box to find the corpse.
“We don’t know for now why he was killed that way. Experts are handling the matter,” police spokesperson Resila Onyango is quoted as saying.
Gay sex in Kenya is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Though it is rarely enforced, members of the country’s LGBTQ community routinely face discrimination and stigma, and efforts to decriminalise gay sex have been thwarted.
Last year, the killing of non-binary lesbian Sheila Lumumba led to a social media campaign to get #JusticeForSheila.
There were similar campaigns in 2021 following the murders of trans-woman activist Erica Chandra and LGBTQ activist Joash Mosoti.
Additional reporting by Mercy Juma in Nairobi.