NAIROBI, KENYA — (02-25-23) — Kenya’ Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Kenyan authorities were wrong to ban the LGBT community from registering a rights organization. Yet at the same time it stressed that gay sex remains illegal.
The judges ruled three-to-two that the country’s NGO board were in error to stop the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) from registering in 2013. As Kenya’s highest court, the Supreme Court’s ruling cannot be overturned, not even by its legislature.
In the Supreme Court’ judgment, the judges ruled that “it would be unconstitutional to limit the right to associate, through denial of registration of an association, purely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the applicants”.
While the ruling is considered by some to be a victory, it is bitter-sweet victory for Kenya’s LGBT community.
Thanks to the laws introduced under British colonial rule decades ago, means that it is still considered a crime to have sex that “is against the order of nature”, which can result in up to 14 years in prison.
In May 2019, Kenya’s Supreme Court rejected an attempt to overturn the anti-LGBT laws.
Friday’s judgement ends a 10-year legal battle which began in 2013 when Eric Gitari, former executive director of the NGLHRC, challenged the head of Kenya NGO Coordination Board’s refusal to permit him to apply to register an NGO under a name containing the words gay or lesbian.
The judges ruled in Gitari’ favor in 2015, again at the Court of Appeal in 2019 and finally in 2023.
Speaking after the ruling, the current executive director of the NGLHRC, Njeri Gateru, told the press…”The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the lower courts’ rulings is a triumph for justice and human rights. At a time where the Kenyan LGBTIQ+ community is decrying the increased targeting and violence; this decision affirms the spirit and intention of the Constitution to protect all Kenyans and guarantee their rights.” said Gateru.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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