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Activists take aim at Kenya’s gay sex ban in High Court challenge

Nick Duffy April 15, 2016

A case has been filed with Kenya’s High Court aimed at striking down the country’s ban on gay sex.

At the moment, gay people in Kenya can face up to 14 years imprisonment – while politicians have enthusiastically backed harsher anti-LGBT measures.

The law, which dates back to 1930, any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years”.

The penal code does not specifically ban lesbian sex – but in 2010 the country’s Prime Minister ordered police to start arresting women too.

But LGBT activists have today filed a challenge aimed at smacking down the law.

Eric Gitari of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission filed the case with the country’s High Court, arguing that the penal code violates constitutional rights to equality, dignity and privacy.

It contends: “Those laws degrade the inherent dignity of affected individuals by outlawing their most private and intimate means of self-expression.”

He told Reuters: “We have been dealing with a lot of cases of violence, of people beating up people because they disagree with their sexual orientation.

“Our clients… are not willing to follow up these cases with the police because they don’t know how to explain to the police what they were doing with other men in the privacy of their bedrooms without admitting to committing offences.”

US President Barack Obama – considered a hero by many Kenyans because of his roots in the country – called for the decriminalisation of gay sex on a visit last summer.

The leader said that treating people differently eroded freedom and then “bad things happen” – but Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta told President Obama that while the US and Kenya agree on a lot, there are some things that cultures or societies “just don’t accept”.

More: Africa, case, court, Kenya, Kenya, Law, LGBT, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, sexuality

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