Kenya anti-sodomy law upheld

Justice Roselyne Aburili

Justice Roselyne Aburili

In May 2019 Kenya’s High Court ruled against campaigners seeking to overturn a decades-old law banning sodomy.

As the BBC reports here, three judges rejected claims that the law violated the new constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy.

The penal code criminalises ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’. Such activity is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Campaigners and western commentators such as the BBC complain the law dates back to the colonial era but struggle to find any convictions for what they euphemistically describe as ‘gay sex’ in Kenya.

Pro-sodomy lobby group

Homosexual Kenyan activists lost their case.

Homosexual Kenyan activists lost their case.

  In such a socially conservative country it comes as something of a surprise to find a specific pro-sodomy lobby group. But Kenya actually has a handful, of which the wealthiest is the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. (NGLHRC).

  This NGO led the action to overturn the law. Its leader said the legislation ‘gave rise to a climate of homophobia.’

Of course it does. The whole point of the law is to prevent homosexual activity. It also discourages lesbianism while any idea that men or women can change sex is met with incredulity not just in Kenya but across Africa.

NGLHRC is a registered NGO

Njeri Gateru, NGLHRC's well-paid leader

Njeri Gateru, NGLHRC’s well-paid leader

Trying to use the law to change public opinion is common in the West and activists had hoped it might gain a foothold in Kenya and spread out wider. This explains the exasperation of Njeri Gateru, co-founder and executive director of NGLHRC and her complaints about ‘prejudice’.

In March 2019 the Court of Appeal in Nairobi upheld a 2015 High Court decision compelling the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board to officially register the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) as an NGO. NGLHRC depends on foreign money, lots of it, to pay its staff and officers. While Kenyans might accept NGLHRC having freedom of association as an NGO, the source of its funding needs to be addressed.

In December 2012 NGLHRC held a ‘Gay and Lesbian Awards’ in Nairobi’s City Hall. It is not illegal in Kenya to identify oneself as homosexual. But why did City Hall allow that?

Answer to local prayer

Prayers of Kenyan Christians were answered

Prayers of Kenyan Christians were answered

  Consequently, it was an answer to much local prayer in Kenya that the High Court court in May 2019 ruled against such a well-funded group. Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians put in much labour of prayer and spiritual warfare.

  Kenyan Christians also witnessed outside the court. Catholic bishop Alfred Rotish told Reuters news agency outside the court: ‘We cannot be another Sodom and Gomorrah’.

Indeed the overwhelming majority of Christian and Muslim groups support the current law. The Kenyan attorney-general himself argued against decriminalisation.

What did the judges say?

The Judges, led by Justice Roselyne, explain their decision.

The Judges, led by Justice Roselyne, explain their decision.

The judges dismissed the argument that a ban on unnatural practices contravened the 2010 constitution, which protects all citizens’ privacy and dignity.

Presiding judge Roselyne Aburili declared to a packed courtroom: ‘We find the impugned sections [of the penal code] are not unconstitutional’.

She also found that allowing sodomy would ‘open the door for same-sex unions’. In her commentary she added that there was ‘no conclusive scientific proof that LGBTQ people are born that way.’

The judges ruled that while they respected changes to laws on homosexuality in other countries, it was the court’s duty to respect prevailing Kenyan values.

Praise God for this victory

2Chron 19:5 And he (Jehoshaphat) set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, 6 And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.
Prov 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
Isaiah 1:9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Psalm 118:23 This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

We give God the glory and the praise. Thank the Lord for Justice Roselyne Aburili and her colleagues.  They are the ministers of God to us for good. Pray the Lord will uphold and defend them, guard their persons and families and reject any future appeals against the ruling.

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