Kenyan court upholds law criminalizing gay sex in unanimous ruling

LGBT refugees living in Kenya stand behind a rainbow flag as they protest against their treatment by authorities outside an office of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Nairobi Kenya

Kenya upholds law criminalising gay sex

Kenya's High Court has refused to decriminalise homosexuality today, in a disappointing verdict for gay rights activists across Africa where dozens of countries have similar laws.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of the petitioners against the law, has recorded more than 1,500 such attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Kenyans since 2014.

Same-sex relations have been banned since the British colonized Kenya in the late 19th century. "LGBTQ+ people being able to speak out and be themselves is key, so that people can see that they are just like everyone else, but for who they choose to love", says Braun. Kenyan LGBT activists argued that the Kenyan Constitution says the "state shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground", the Times reported.

For 28-year-old gay rights activist and gospel singer Joji Baro, the memories of discrimination, physical attacks, arbitrary arrests and being disowned by family for coming out are still too fresh, and he said that even if the court had ruled to lift the ban, he wouldn't have gone home.

KCCPF through its lawyer Charles Kanjama argued that the LGBT community was trying to sneak gay rights through "back door", yet the Constitution explicitly states in Article 45 (2) that every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex.

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It is their argument that the two sections are discriminatory and contravene various provisions of the Constitution such as the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, human dignity, freedom, security and privacy.

"We are not persuaded by the petitioners that the offenses against them are overboard", one of the judges said, according local media.

Same-sex relationships are a crime in more than 70 countries around the world, nearly half of them in Africa.

The potential landmark ruling on Friday is "hugely significant" for Kenya and the continent said Human Rights Watch researcher Neela Ghosal.

Some in Kenya, however, praised the decision as a strike against what they called "sexual perversion". You can not legalize something as an orientation.

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Kenya's courts had recently ruled in favor of LGBT rights.

An appeals court in Mombasa ruled past year that forced anal exams on those suspected of engaging in same-sex activities was not constitutional.

Gay rights groups supported the petition initially filed by Eric Gitari, who wants the court to quash sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code.

Altogether, four human rights group petitioned in the lawsuit: NGLHRC, the Gay And Lesbian Coalition Of Kenya (GALCK), Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western Kenya Network (NYARWEK) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told CNN past year during an interview that LGBTQ rights were "of no major importance" to Kenyans. She said that decriminalizing same-sex relations contradicts constitutional values and the customs of Kenyan people.

The law states that a person contravening the sections, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years. The apprehension of increased violence is very reasonable.

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"They devastate people's lives and have no place in a democratic Kenyan society", he added.

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