Kenya: Government watchdog backs repeal of laws against homosexuality and prostitution

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission has published a report calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality and prostitution in the east African state.

The governmental Commission’s report on sexual and reproductive health rights was published this week, the Daily Nation reported, as a public inquiry came to an end.

Gay offences in Kenya carry penalties of between five and 14 years’ imprisonment.

The report recommends the decriminalisation of homosexuality and of sex work in order to address discrimination against gays and prostitutes.

Winfred Lichuma, a KNHRC commissioner said: “We need to focus on sexual minorities and address their issues because their numbers are increasing fast and they are in our midst.

“They should also regulate voluntary sex work for men and women in order to make the practice safe for prostitutes and their clients.”

The KNHRC is a government watchdog which investigates and provides redress for human rights violations in Kenya.

The similarly-named Kenya Human Rights Commission, a non-government organisation, published a report in 2011 calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

It said gay and transgender people were “routinely harassed by the police, held in remand houses beyond the constitutional period without charges being preferred against them, and presented in court on trumped-up charges […]

“LGBTI sex workers, mostly MSMs [men who have sex with men] are often asked for bribes and sexual favours by male police officers in exchange for their freedom and security. … Those who fail to give bribes or sexual favours are charged with tramped up charges and sometimes raped by state security officers.”

In September last year, Dr. Willy Munyoki Mutunga, the recently-appointed Chief Justice of Kenya said during a visit to Uganda: “The other frontier of marginalization is the gay rights movement. Gay rights are human rights. Here I’m simply confining my statement to the context of human rights and social justice paradigm, and avoiding the controversy that exists in our constitutions and various legislation.

“As far as I know, human rights principles that we work on, do not allow us to implement human rights selectively. We need clarity on this issue within the human rights movement in East Africa, if we are to face the challenges that are spearheaded by powerful political and religious forces in our midst.

“I find the arguments made by some of our human rights activists, the so-called “moral arguments”, simply rationalizations for using human rights principles opportunistically and selectively. We need to bring together the opposing viewpoints in the movement of this issue for final and conclusive debate.”

by Stephen Gray
Source – PinkNews