Ruto and Odinga rail against LGBT court ruling

Ruto and Odinga rail against LGBT court ruling

Kenya’s President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga have united in their criticism of last week’s Supreme Court ruling which allows the LGBT community to register lobby groups in Kenya. 

President Ruto has sworn that he will never allow gay marriage in Kenya, which he said “goes against the country’s cultures and religious beliefs”.

It’s the latest and highest-profile attack on the judgement, which many have wrongly suggested gives the LGBT community freedom to get married in Kenya. 

Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of Kenya’s NGO board to decline the registration of the National Gays and Lesbians Human Rights Commission – or any other group with the words gay and lesbian in it, was unconstitutional.

The court said that denying the group registration purely on the basis of their sexuality was a violation of their constitutional rights to association and freedom from discrimination.

However since then, there has been outrage from the public, parliament, the religious community, powerful state officers including the speaker of the national assembly, and now the president himself.

On Wednesday parliament discussed the judgement at length, and many members who spoke wondered why the court had made the judgement to grant freedom of association to what they described as an illegality.

Kenya’s constitution only provides for marriage between members of the opposite sex, while the penal code punishes sex “against the order of nature” with up to 14 years imprisonment. 

These are the provisions upon which Kenya’s legislators have faulted the judgement. 

On Thursday, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said registering a group which fights for the rights of gay people to get married was an attempt to legitimise LGBT actions in Kenya, which was against the country’s way of life.

President Ruto – to cheers from the crowd – suggested there was a campaign by foreigners to introduce “alien practices” in the country, which he swore not to allow in Kenya. 

And opposition leader Mr Odinga has also been quoted as saying that it was not the role of the judiciary to make laws.

In recent weeks, there has been escalating anti-gay sentiment in Kenya and the region, with hundreds of hostile social media posts drowning out any attempts to balance the discussion. 

On the day of the judgement, Kenyan legislator Peter Kaluma filed an official notice seeking to amend the law to give life imprisonment to people convicted of homosexuality or the promotion of it.

Source: BBC Africa

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