Kenya’s High Court have ruled to uphold laws criminalising same-sex activity in a decision that is seen as a major setback to campaigners.
Written by Adriaan van Klinken for The Conversation
Kenya’s Penal Code, which criminalises same-sex activity, will remain in-tact following a High Court ruling which rejected a petition calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country.
LGBT activists in Kenya were hopeful that their country would join an emerging trend in Africa. Earlier this year, Angola decriminalised homosexuality, while Mozambique did so in 2015. In June, Botswana High Court will hand down its verdict in a decriminalisation case that has the public support of the country’s president.
The long-anticipated ruling in Kenya had drawn a large crowd to the Milimani High Court in Nairobi, with hundreds of people, mostly members of the local LGBT community and their allies, queuing to get into the packed court room. They were greatly disappointed by the negative ruling, while other Kenyans on Twitter expressed their excitement that the Court had decided to protect “morality”.
The unanimous decision of the three-judge bench as read out by Judge Charles Mwita was that:
the impugned provisions of the Penal Code are not vague and disclose an offence. The petitioners have failed to prove that the provisions are discriminatory. There is no evidence to show that the petitioners were discriminated and their rights violated as they sought healthcare.
The ruling will be widely seen as a major setback in the struggle for the rights of sexual minorities in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.
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