NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – The Lesbian and Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community can now go ahead and register their association as a rights group.
This is after the Court of Appeal affirmed the High Court decision that directed the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordination Board to register the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) as an NGO.
Speaking after the ruling, Njeru Gateru the Executive Director of National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) had this to say: “The judges have chosen to stand by the constitution that allows for like-minded persons to meet and organise formally. That is a freedom enshrined in the constitution and the fact that the Court of Appeal agrees with us and allows us to register as an organization is not only a win for us as an organization, but a win for human rights.
Njeru said the ruling brings inclusivity and sets a positive precedent for other rights organisations in Kenya and around Africa.
The community has been struggling to register their association since it’s foundation in 2012, when the NGO coordination board first rejected their initial request in March 2013.
NGLHRC’s then co-founder Eric Gitari challenged the decision by filing a petition citing Article 36 of the Constitution of Kenya, which protects every Kenyan citizen’s freedom to associate with others.
In 2015, the High Court ruled in favour of the of the LGBT community, arguing that they had the same rights as everyone else to form an organization for mutual support.
“As a society, once we recognise that persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex are human beings; we must accord them the human rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution to all persons, by virtue of their being human, in order to protect their dignity as human as stated in Article 19(2) of the Constitution of Kenya,” ruled the High Court then.
This decision was contested at the appellate court by the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board.
The Board rejected their application on the basis that Kenya’s Penal Code criminalizes gay and lesbian unions or relationships.