India's gay sex ruling could help legalise homosexuality in Kenya

Posted by On 8:56 AM

India's gay sex ruling could help legalise homosexuality in Kenya

Kenya’s High Court will hear arguments based on India’s decriminalisation of homosexuality earlier this month as it considers overturning its own gay sex laws.

India’s Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision to overturn the ban on consensual same-sex relations, which was previously punishable by a sentence up to life in prison under the 157-year-old law.



And now, Kenya could follow suit. Parties for and against decriminalisation will be allowed to refer to the Indian ruling in their submissions before the High Court on October 25. The proceedings could potentially overturn the 120-year-old Section 162 and Section 165 laws.

Indian members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the Supreme Court decision to strike dow   n a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Mumbai on September 6, 2018. - India's Supreme Court on September 6 struck down the ban that has been at the centre of years of legal battles. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Campaigners in India celebrate the decriminalisation of homosexulity (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty)

Last week, the High Court overturned its government’s ban on lesbian film Rafiki so it can be submitted for Academy Awards consideration â€" and it has been playing to sold-out crowds.

This latest decision has raised hopes that the east African country of around 50 million could become a beacon of hope on a continent which still largely bans homosexuality.

The court’s constitutional division allo wed comparisons to be drawn between India and Kenya’s laws against “sexual acts against the order of nature” because they come from the same root: British colonialism.

The Nest Collective Director Tim Chuchu (L), Production Designer Summy Dolat (R) and Producer Njeri Gitungo pose after their keynote speech on their film "The Stories of Our Lives" banned screening in Kenya for LGBT theme during the UN GLOBE event celebrating first time on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), on May 17, 2018, at United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenya. - UN GLOBE is a staff group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex staff members of the UN and its peacekeeping operations. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenyan campaigners are seeking to follow India’s example (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty)

Kenyan opponents of the law, which can lead to a 14-year prison sentence for those found guilty, argue that it means queer people have no protection from being abused, assaulted, raped and even turned into slaves, according to Reuters.

They also say it is used to discriminate against LGBT+ people in a number of areas, from employment and education to housing and health.

Charles Kanjama, a lawyer for parties against decriminalisation, 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.”

Kenyan gay and lesbian organisations demonstrate outside the Nigerian High Commission in Nairobi on February 7, 2014. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 had signed a bill into law against gay marriage an   d civil partnerships. The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 imposes penalties of up to 14 years' imprisonment for anyone found to have entered in to such a union. Anyone who founds or supports gay groups or clubs also runs the risk of a maximum 10-year jail term. The legislation, which effectively reinforces existing laws banning homosexuality in Nigeria, has been widely condemned abroad as draconian and against a raft of human rights conventions. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A positive result for LGBT+ advocates would be momentous (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty)

He also commented on the news that screenings of Rafiki were raucous celebrations of the lesbian love story, as the film was greeted with huge applause from the audience at Prestige Cinema.

The crowd also reportedly “laughed and booed” at the logo of the Kenya Film Classification Board â€" the body that suppressed its release.

And demand for the movie was so high that the cinema quickly upped the number of planned screenings, opening a second screen to cater to the influx of moviegoers.

Kanjama said: “The views of that proportion of the population that watch it are unlikely to change, because those may be part of the three or four percent who already have very ambivalent views about this issue.”

The two main characters in Rafiki look at each other (Rafiki)

But audience members who came to see Rafiki lavished it with praise, with one called Daisy Oriri saying: “It is really a victory… This is the kind of movie that makes it possible for mentalities to evolve, that makes people understand that we have rights and that we are human beings.

“It was a beautiful movie, it tells a part of my life.”

The bitter irony of the film’s international critical success despite the hostile reaction within Kenya was not lost on the movie-goers.

Mbithi Masya said: “This is the first Kenyan movie in history to get such international recognition. It is crazy to think that it was forbidden in its own country.”


Read This: The Celebrities That You Didn’t Realise Are Gay

Source: Google News Kenya | Netizen 24 Kenya

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