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Kenyan priest among gays ‘seeking protection’ from courts

In an urgent application, they allege that they have been subjected to several violations of their rights to privacy and human dignity by law enforcers/FILE

In an urgent application, they allege that they have been subjected to several violations of their rights to privacy and human dignity by law enforcers/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Five homosexuals including a priest based in Kisumu are in court seeking orders to protect the rights of sexual minorities.

Mark Odhiambo and four others claim they have been subjected to public attacks, arbitrary arrests by the police and discrimination purely on the basis of their perceived or actual imputed sexual orientation.

In an urgent application, they allege that they have been subjected to several violations of their rights to privacy and human dignity by law enforcers.

One of the complainants, Yvonne Powers, claims she has undergone public attacks, arbitrary detention and eviction from her residence, attacks on her business purely because of her perceived or actual sexual orientation.

Through Otieno and Ogola Company advocates the petitioners say they are suing on behalf of public interest to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms of persons of minority sexual orientation and gender identities are protected.

“The law enforcers have been subjecting gays, transgender and bisexuals to inhuman degrading treatment,” they state.

Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, Nyanza Western and Rift Valley Network and Kenya Human Rights Commission have filed the petition in support of the petitioners.

They claim their rights and freedoms have been infringed as a result of the criminalisation of consensual conduct in the Penal Code which has informed attacks against persons of sexual minorities.

Consequently, they want an order declaring that sexual and gender minorities are entitled to the highest attainable standard of health including the right to health care services as guaranteed in Article 43 of the Constitution.

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Further, the petitioners want the State directed to develop policies and adopt practices prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In legislating, the State should not discriminate against any particular group of persons and criminal law should apply universally to all persons and not just to a select group because of their private consensual sexual conduct based on sexual orientation.

Saying that Kenya has an international obligation to comply with international convention that promote human rights, Odhiambo and his co-petitioners want sections 162(a) (c) and 165 of the Penal Code which criminalizes private and consensual sex between same sex adults declared unconstitutional.

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