Kenya’s High Court Refuses to Decriminalize Homosexuality After Judge Rules There Is ‘No Scientific Proof Gay People are Born That Way’

Kenya’s High Court has refused to decriminalise same-sex relations today, in a disappointing verdict for gay rights activists across Africa where dozens of countries have similar laws

Kenya’s High Court has refused to decriminalise homosexuality today, in a disappointing verdict for gay rights activists across Africa where dozens of countries have similar laws.

The three judges’ unanimous ruling in the closely watched case was followed by activists’ vows to appeal.

In making the ruling, one of the court’s judges shocked the packed courtroom by saying there was ‘no conclusive scientific proof that LGBTQ people are born that way’.

Many in Kenya’s vibrant gay community had hoped the court would make history by scrapping the British colonial-era laws and inspiring other countries in Africa to do the same.

Activists argue that the laws criminalising consensual same-sex relations between adults are in breach of the constitution because they deny basic rights. The state should not regulate intimacy between gay couples, they say.

The laws prescribe up to 14 years in prison for people convicted of homosexual acts.

Activists argue that the laws criminalising consensual same-sex relations between adults are in breach of the constitution because they deny basic rights. The state should not regulate intimacy between gay couples, they say.

The laws prescribe up to 14 years in prison for people convicted of homosexual acts.

‘We hereby decline the relief sought and dismiss the consolidated petition.’

In a remark prompting gasps and mutters from the packed courtroom, the lone female judge said there was ‘no conclusive scientific proof that LGBTQ people are born that way’.

The Nairobi-based National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission said: ‘These old colonial laws lead to the LGBT community suffering violence, blackmail, harassment and torture.

‘They devastate people’s lives and have no place in a democratic Kenyan society.’

At least half of LGBT people in Kenya have suffered physical and verbal assault, the commission says.

Most assaults are not reported because gays do not have confidence they would get protection from the police, activists say.

Stonewall UK called the decision ‘crushing news’ and said 70 countries around the world still criminalise same-sex relationships.

Thirty-three of those are in Africa, Human Rights Watch says.

Kenya’s courts, which many assume to be conservative on issues of sexuality, had recently ruled in favour of LGBT rights.

Last year, an appeals court ruled unlawful the use of forced anal exams to test whether two men had gay sex. In 2015, High Court judges ordered a government agency to register a human rights group representing the country’s gay people, saying Kenya’s constitution recognises and protects the rights of minorities.

Resistance to gay rights exists at the top of Kenya’s politics.

Gay rights are ‘not of any major importance’ in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta told CNN in an interview last year.

He said the laws criminalising same-sex relations are supported by 99% of Kenyan people.

SOURCE: Daily Mail – William Cole