Kenyan court upholds law making gay sex illegal

Gay sex ruling

Kenyan court upholds law making gay sex illegal

The High Court, on Friday, declined to Repeal Section 162 of Penal Code which criminalises gay sex. Human Rights Watch says 33 countries in Africa continue to outlaw gay sex. Last year, the Kenyan High Court banned the police practice of using forced anal exams to test whether men had been having same-sex relations, and a court allowed the domestic screening of lesbian romance film Rafiki for seven days after the film won global acclaim.

Aburili said that while rulings scrapping such laws around the world were "persuasive, they are not binding on this court".

The petitioners argue that the State has no business regulating matters of intimacy; they told the judges that gay feelings are natural and that the State should not interfere with the private matters of two consenting adults.

In 2016, LGBT rights activists filed a case with Kenya's High Court saying that homosexual relations should be decriminalised. "The issue is violence, discrimination and oppression", one activist, Tirop Salat, said.

In 2015, High Court judges ordered a government agency to register a human rights group representing the country's gay people, saying Kenya's constitution recognises and protects the rights of minorities.

Lawyer Paul Muite for the commission, the main petitioner in the case, said they would appeal.

The judges said that declaring the sections illegal would open the door to unions of persons of the same sex, creating a conflict with article 45 (2) of the Constitution. She said the ban on same-sex relationships "sends a unsafe signal to broader society and encourages hostility and even violence against LGBT individuals".

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

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)'s senior LGBT rights researcher, Neela Ghoshal, said the Nairobi court verdict reduced Kenya's gay people to "second-class citizenship". Gerald Walterfang with the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum said they were delighted with the ruling against a "destructive sexual lifestyle" and called the case "an attempt to sanitize what is illicit". "We can not be another Sodom and Gomorrah", Catholic bishop Alfred Rotich told Reuters at the courthouse, as proponents held signs saying "homosexuality is an abomination". "If somebody has an orientation to steal money, we can not legalize it".

The laws prescribe up to 14 years in prison for people convicted of homosexual acts.

Kenya's courts, which many assume to be conservative on issues of sexuality, had recently ruled in favour of LGBT rights.

Resistance to gay rights exists at the top of Kenya's politics, however. President Uhuru Kenyatta previous year dismissed the issue as "not of any major importance" and insisted that the anti-gay laws are supported by "99 per cent" of the population. Instead, the organization says, the laws have served as a pretense to mistreat LGBTQ people, who report harrowing accounts of being forced into sex, discriminated against at work, suspended from schools, pressured into paying off authorities and other abuses. The apprehension of increased violence is very reasonable.

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

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