Kenya judges get ready for major gay legal battle

Kenya’s refusal to register an LGBTI organization is set to become a legal showdown between gay activists and anti-gay forces, raising ‘deep’ constitutional issues

Kenya is forming a three-judge panel to review whether officials breached the Constitution by refusing to register an LGBTI organization.

It could be a landmark case as it raises the question of whether LGBTI people are equally protected under Kenya’s Constitution.

The case is set to become a major legal showdown between gay and anti-gay activists in the east African country.

At a hearing on Wednesday (30 October) Justice Isaac Lenaoloa directed the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to form a three-judge bench to hear the case.

It represents a major step forward for the LGBTI movement, and GSN sources in Kenya note the Chief Justice is well known in the country for being pro-gay.

The next hearing, assuming the bench is constituted, will be on 2 December.

The case revolves around the official Non-Governmental Organization Board who refused to register the name of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC).

They said the LGBTI organization couldn’t be registered as its name is ‘not acceptable’ and ‘the Penal Code under Section 162 criminalizes gay and lesbian liaisons’.

But Denis Nzioka, NGLHRC deputy director, told GSN that refusal was a ‘gross violation of our human rights’.

He argues that just because homosexual sex is criminalized in Kenya, that shouldn’t prevent LGBTI people associating with each other, forming and organization and being legally recognized.

The NGO Board and Attorney General, Githu Muigai, who is also named as a respondent in the case, have two weeks to reply to the suit against them ahead of the hearings.

Gay activists expect anti-gay elements including Christian lawyers and the National Conservative Forum will want to be involved in the case. They too, have two weeks, to file applications to the case.

Justice Lenaola, the presiding judge of the Constitution and Human Rights Division of the High Court in Kenya, is said to have commented he had been expecting a case similar to this one since the country’s new constitution was introduced in 2010.

GSN sources claim he said this kind of case was one reason former President Daniel Moi did not want Kenyans to pass the new Constitution.

Lenaola is also thought to believe the case raises ‘weighty issues’ that will require a ‘deep analysis of almost half the Kenyan constitution’.

by Tris Reid-Smith
Source – Gay Star News