Kenya Awaits Verdict Of Landmark Ruling To Decriminalise Homosexuality

The ruling which was petitioned for by human rights campaigners would repeal sections of the law that make gay sex in Kenya illegal.

Kenya verdict: two men pose for a photo on their Wedding day
Image: All African LGBTQ We Have Rights Too

Thousands of LGBT+ Kenyans are awaiting the verdict in a landmark case which seeks to decriminalise homosexual sex.

In Kenya, the current laws dictate that the act is punishable by 14 years in jail. Homosexuality is taboo in many African countries and the persecution of LGBT+ people is commonplace.

There are no accurate figures for the size of Kenya’s LGBT+ community, rights groups say, as many people are afraid to come out for fear of being targeted.

Campaigners attest that sexual minorities are often abused, assaulted by mobs, raped by police or vigilantes, or enslaved by criminals.

Mathenge, 37, said he had been forced to move house numerous times after landlords discovered he was gay. He regularly puts up with physical and verbal abuse.

“I have been evicted from seven houses. I have now moved quite far from where there are people who know me. I have to drive for three hours to work just because of my sexuality,” Mathenge told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We need to change this environment so I can live anywhere I want, as long as I pay rent.”

A number of human rights groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commision (NGLHRC) have advocated for the repeal of the colonial-era Penal Code, which violates the constitutional rights to equality, dignity and privacy.

Same-sex marriage is not legalised anywhere on the continent apart from South Africa and the Kenyan government said that the decriminalisation of homosexual relations would lead to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

“There is a legitimate expectation some of those unions might end up in marriage,” said Jennifer Gitiri, a lawyer with the attorney general’s office.

“In the event that would happen, it would be a violation of the constitution,” she told the court.

LGBT+ campaigners, Christian and Muslim group and the office of the attorney general testified during the three-day hearing and a date for delivering the verdict has been set for April 26.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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