The Kenyan High Court on Friday upheld a law banning same sex relations. Gay rights activists had petitioned the court to decriminalise same sex relations on grounds that some sections of the Kenyan law are discriminatory and infringe on their rights to privacy.
The court however ruled that the provisions are not discriminatory because they do not single out homosexuals and that the petitioners had not provided evidence to prove that their rights had been violated under the said laws.
Same sex relations in the East African nation are punishable by 14 years in jail.
The push and shove to get into the courtroom minutes before the three judge bench sat to deliver the much anticipated ruling.
The two sections of the law stipulate that “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is punishable with up to 14 years in prison, and for “indecent practices between males” one is liable to up to five years in prison.
The petition was filed in 2016 by three gay rights organisations, who argued that criminalising same sex relations under a colonial law era violates their rights to equality, non-discrimination as well as human dignity and privacy.
“We find that the impugned sections are not unconstitutional, accordingly the consolidation petitions have no merit. We hereby decline the relief sought and dismiss the consolidated petitions,” says Roselyn Aburili who is the high court judge in Kenya.
A disappointing end, for gay rights activists not just in Kenya but across Africa who thought Kenya’s High court would set a precedent.
It sends a very chilling message not just to LGBT people in Kenya but LGBT people across the African continent. This has been a such a painful moment to listen and witness,” says Eric Gitari who is a petitioner.
33 countries in Africa still outlaw same-sex relations. The church welcomed Friday’s judgement.
“You can see it on my face, this is the face of Kenya that there must be frenzy now and celebration, the country has been defended by this ruling,” say Bishop Alfred Rotich who is the Catholic Bishop.
The United Nations expressed disappointment in Friday’s ruling saying it was a missed opportunity to uphold human rights.The activists have said they will appeal the ruling.