Kenyan Court Upholds Law, Banning Same-Sex Relations

Wire Service
By Wire Service
May 24, 2019Worldshare
Kenyan Court Upholds Law, Banning Same-Sex Relations
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Kenya’s High Court ruled Friday, May 24, that a colonial-era law banning same-sex relations should remain in place.

Same-sex relations have been banned since the British colonized Kenya in the late 19th century. Kenya’s penal code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Anyone found engaging in same-sex relationships could face up to 14 years in prison.

In declining to decriminalize same-sex relations, the Kenya High Court said there was not enough evidence of discrimination against the homosexual community and therefore it upheld the ban.

The decision was not unexpected.

Thirty-eight out of 55 African countries have enacted laws that make it illegal to be gay. In Somalia and South Sudan, it is punishable by death. In Nigeria, it carries a 14-year prison term, and 30 years in Tanzania.

As Kenya is still largely a deeply conservative and religious society, Kenyan society has not been eager to embrace same-sex relationships.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said homosexual rights were “of no major importance” to Kenyans.

“It is not human rights issue as you would want to put it, this is an issue of society; our own culture as a people irregardless of which community you come from,” he said. “This is not acceptable, this is not agreeable…”

“It is not a question of the government accepting or not accepting,” he told Amanpour.

Religion is a driving factor behind the upholding of moral principle.

Reverend Tom Otieno of the Lavington United Church is adamant that same-sex relationships will not be accepted in the country.

“We are not about to accept homosexuality and we will not accept it. even if the courts try to tinker with it, we will go back to court,” he said.

“This idea, this push is certainly alien to this country. I will not deny that they have convinced certain Kenyans of the persuasion that that is what they want. Those Kenyans are free to feel that way, but they are not at liberty to impose that on us.”

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