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Kenyan high court upholds ban on same-sex relations

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JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya's high court upheld laws criminalizing homosexual acts between adults in a nation with Christian majority in a landmark ruling Friday.

The petitioners behind the historic case wanted the high court to declare unconstitutional the sections of the penal code that discriminated against members of the LGBTQ community.

The decision was not unexpected.

LGBT+ activists in Kenya had been "cautiously optimistic" ahead of Friday's ruling, Mercy Njueh of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in Kenya told PinkNews their hopes are now shattered. Homosexuality can be punished with the death penalty in Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria, under Islamic sharia law, and gay men have been executed in southern Somalia by al-Shabaab, an Islamist militia organization.

Despite this, activists on the continent are recording small wins.

"Kenya's High Court has relegated people in same-sex relationships in Kenya to second-class citizenship", said HRW senior researcher Neela Ghoshal. These included the right to privacy, freedom of expression, human dignity, the right to health, and the right to protection against discrimination.

"In casting aside this archaic and insidious relic of the colonial past, Angola has eschewed discrimination and embraced equality", the agency said.

Last year, the Court of Appeal declared unlawful the use of forced anal exams to test whether two men had gay sex.

These arguments are flawed.

Thirty-three of those are in Africa, according to Human Rights Watch, which called Friday's ruling "a step backward in the progress Kenya has made toward equality in recent years".

Court hearings on the matter have been ongoing since February 2018. "Hopefully, the appeal court will be more respectful of constitutional morality and the preeminence of justice and dignity for all". Yet in handing down this disappointing judgment, the Court has ruled that a certain sector of society is undeserving of those rights.

Gateru blamed the ban for violence, blackmail, harassment and torture of homosexuals.

A ban was temporarily lifted later that same year in Kenya which allowed the movie "Rafiki" to play.

Conservative sections of Kenyan society are uncomfortable with some of the clauses. "It is time for us to live and let live", Passaris said. And it said there was no scientific evidence that gays and lesbians are "born that way".

At least half of LGBT people in Kenya have suffered physical and verbal assault, the commission says. Another says "indecent practices between males" can bring up to five years in prison. "Because they know that there is nowhere you are going to take them. I have been there before so I can STATE WITH CONFIDENCE", Nduta said. "Young people are driving the community forward through social media". "This is not acceptable, this is not agreeable". Essentially they are being told to accept or be labelled homophobic or transphobic.

Religion is a driving factor behind the lack of acceptance. "We must sustain the noise against the trends", said Ole Sapit.

"This idea, this push is certainly alien to this country".

I want to be happy for myself, just the way I am.
"If we keep quiet, they advance an inch".

Being dissatisfied with the ruling, the NGO Coordination board appealed this decision, arguing that NGLHRC was "unacceptable", and that it could not register it because Kenya's penal code "criminalizes gay and lesbian liaisons".

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