LGBT Kenyans’ Patience Has Gone Unrewarded

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02/26/2019

Kenya’s High Court on Friday postponed a much-awaited decision on a colonial-era law that has long deprived one group of Kenyans of uhuru, or freedom, promising to revisit the issue in May. Criminalization of gay sex remains on the books. Disappointment reigned among Kenya’s LGBT communities and the human rights advocates who have supported their crusade for equality. The petition challenging the constitutionality of Kenya’s anti-homosexuality laws was filed in 2016, but activists have been planning for this moment for a decade. They built up to it by documenting human rights violations against LGBT Kenyans; galvanizing public debate; conducting targeted outreach to groups including the police, the media, and religious leaders; and filing other constitutional challenges on LGBT-related issues to develop precedent. Their work may yet pay off. But the moment of relief has yet to come. Kenya’s High Court was asked to find sections 162 and 165 of the penal code, which punish “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” and “indecent practices between males” with 14 years and five years in prison, respectively, to violate constitutional rights to equality, nondiscrimination, human dignity, security, privacy, and health.

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