October 03, 2018

Kenya HC to consider Indian SC’s verdict on S377 in battle for gay rights


Submissions based on the Indian Supreme Court’s recent ruling will be allowed to be made by parties involved in a court case seeking decriminalization of gay sex in Kenya, a Kenyan court has said.

On 6 September, the Supreme Court of India struck down a British-era law punishing gay sex with up to 10 years’ imprisonment, raising hopes of similar reforms elsewhere in the world, including Africa.

Submissions from both parties on the relevance of India’s decision for Kenya will be heard on 25 October by the Kenyan High Court’s constitutional division. Kenya has a similar law dating back to colonial times which criminalizes “sexual acts against the order of nature”.

Across much of Africa, homosexuality is taboo and gay people are persecuted or discriminated against. In Kenya, homosexuality can be punished with 14 years’ imprisonment. In recent years however, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights’ campaigners have become increasingly vocal.

According to those in Kenya who are against decriminalization of gay sex, India’s decision is flawed.

Charles Kanjama, a lawyer representing parties against decriminalization of gay sex, said, “Kenyan courts are bound only by decisions of higher courts in Kenya, but decisions of foreign courts can be persuasive. They don’t have to be adopted.”

According to those supporting decriminalization, there is routine abuse, assault and rape of sexual minorities by the police or vigilantes in the absence of legal protection.

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