Same-sex relations must remain criminal offence - Kenya court rules

Kenya upholds law criminalising gay sex

Kenya upholds law criminalising gay sex

Kenya's High Court on Friday declined to decriminalise sections of the penal code that make it illegal to have consensual same sex.

In 2016, LGBT rights activists filed a case with Kenya's High Court saying that homosexual relations should be decriminalised. 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. 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. They said that the laws weren't discriminatory and didn't agree with the argument made by plaintiffs that these laws stop people from getting treated for HIV, which causes AIDS.

One law punishes "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" and prescribes up to 14 years in prison for people convicted of homosexual acts.

Life as an LGBTQ person in Kenya is unsafe and can result in discrimination, violence and sometimes loss of life, CNN said.

The judges rejected claims that the colonial-era law violated the new constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy.

Reading the ruling, one of the judges concluded that Kenya had no social pressure to legalise homosexuality.

Decriminalising gay sex would "open a door to same sex unions, which would go directly against the spirit of Article 45 of the constitution on marriage", the justice further said.

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The ban was leading to violence, blackmail, harassment and torture of homosexuals, said Gateru.

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

Same-sex relationships are a crime in more than 70 countries around the world, nearly half of them in Africa. 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". "I believe justice will eventually prevail in Kenya, as in other parts of the world that have decriminalized same-sex conduct, but in the meantime, ordinary LGBT Kenyans will continue to pay the price for the state's indifference to inequality". "If somebody has an orientation to steal money, we can not legalize it". "Yet in handing down this most disappointing judgment, the Court has ruled that a certain sector of our society is not deserving of those rights".

The groups that launched the legal challenge against the anti-gay laws said they plan to appeal Friday's court judgement to a higher court.

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.

Gay rights are "not of any major importance" in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta told CNN in an interview a year ago. He said the laws criminalizing same-sex relations are supported by "99 percent" of the 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.

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