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Blow to gays in Kenya as court declines to legalise same-sex unions

The petitioners have vowed to challenge the ruling at the Court of Appeal. Photo/CFM.

NAIROBI, Kenya May 24 – The High Court has rejected a plea to make gay sex legal in Kenya.

This follows a case that was filed in 2016 by three Kenyan gay rights organisations asking judges to declare sections 162 (a) and (c) and section 165 of the Penal Code unconstitutional.

In their suit, the petitioners wanted the court to declare thee laws unconstitutional while claiming that they lead to discrimination against them.

But a three judge-bench of Justices Chacha Mwita, John Mativo and Roselyne Aburili has dismissed the case, saying cultural values must be respected.

“Acknowledging cohabitation among people of the same sex (where they would ostensibly be able to have same-sex intercourse) would indirectly open the door for unions (marriages) of people of the same sex,” Justice Aburili said, while reading the unanimous judgement.

And the judges cautioned that, “any interpretation by the petitioners should not exclude our cultural values and principles. The Constitution is a point of reference to any ruling or decision by the court.”

But as soon as the judgement was read, the petitioners walked out dejected, some shading tears openly.

For Jordan Zeus, who spoke to journalists, “I fear for my life after this ruling but we will not relent in fighting for our rights.”

The ruling was however, welcomed by various leaders, including Senator Irungu Kangata and Bishop Alfred Rotich.

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“This is a good ruling for this nation and I am asking the petitioners not to appeal the judgment but move to the court of compassion. That is the church,” Bishop Rotich said, “The church will be willing to guide and counsel them.”

A group activists opposed to homosexual behaviour in the country were in court carrying placards condemning the behaviour, which they said goes against the African culture.

Anti gay activists outside Milimani Law Courts on Friday when the landmark ruling was issued. Photo/CFM.

The organisations had argued the laws violate the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression, the right to health, the right to human dignity and the right to freedom from discrimination.

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