Anglican Church to pay clerics suspended over homosexuality

Thursday August 3 2017

The employment court in Nyeri fund that that it

The employment court in Nyeri fund that that it is unlawful for the Church to suspend the clerics from work without evidence of allegations that they were homosexuals. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The Anglican Church will reinstate three priests sacked over homosexuality and pay them Sh6.8 million after court of appeal rejected its application to stop execution of the court orders.

Justices Phillip Waki, Roselyne Nambuye and Patrick Kiage dismissed the application by Registered Trustees of the Anglican Church of Kenya which sought an order of staying execution of the Judgment of the Employment Court Nyeri.

Judge Byram Ongaya of the Employment court had directed the church on September 2016 to reinstate three priests, Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau, Rev James Maina Maigua and Rev Paul Mwangi Warui back to their pastoral duties.

UNLAWFUL

The court found that it was unconstitutional for the Church to suspend the three priests from pastoral work without evidence on allegations that they were homosexuals.

Judge Ongaya also ordered the church to pay the priests all their accrued salaries from August 2015, when they were sacked.

Archbishop Gachau was awarded Sh2,437,780 million, Rev Maigua Sh2,224,996 and Rev Warui Sh2,219,814 million.

However, the church applied to have execution of the judgment stayed pending determination of an appeal seeking to overturn the court orders.

The church argued that the appeal would be rendered nugatory unless the order of stay is granted.

LEGAL BASIS

Through lawyer Syphurine Nyongesa Mayende, the church said the three priests were each awarded Sh2 million for psychological trauma following the unlawful termination of their employment.

Mr Mayende argued that the judge erred by failing to consider the circumstances under which the terminations occurred and practicability of reinstatement and awarding the sums of money.

He said the money awards were excessive and without legal basis.

He told the court that the priests held sensitive positions in the church and the accusations of sodomy and homosexuality levelled against them, which led to their termination, were read before the congregations where they served as priests.

He argued that it would be undesirable, disruptive and impractical for the priests to hold their former offices while the appeal is pending.

“Church ministers ought to have faith, credit and trust and these have been lost,” he explained.

However, the priests through lawyers Moraa Onsare and David Onsare dismissed the application.

OPTIONS

Mr Onsare responded that the Anglican Church has many dioceses across the country and there is nothing that would prevent the church from complying with the order of reinstatement.

He said the church has options of either posting the priests to different dioceses or have them serve in different capacities.

The priests, in an affidavit filed by Reverend Warui, termed the application as misconceived saying the Employment court had also rejected the same application.

In their ruling, the court of appeal judges observed that the argument that the priests’ resumption of their pastoral duties has become untenable was falsified.

“It seems to speak more to the applicant’s embarrassment of appearing to eat humble pie in obedience to the court order as opposed to any real hardship. It must also be recalled that the intended appeal could go either way,” said the judges.

The court added that the inconvenience or embarrassment at compliance with a court order does not amount to rendering the intended appeal nugatory.

“We do not see that the reinstatement of the respondents poses the applicant any prejudicial hardship or will occasion any irreversible loss. If they succeed in the appeal, they will relieve the respondents of their duties, pronto,” said the judges.