Tuesday, February 18, 2014

MPs’ anti-gay caucus stoking intolerance

By EDITORIAL
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A group of Kenyan MPs on Tuesday launched a parliamentary caucus against homosexuality. They vowed to ensure the enforcement of existing laws against gay sex and strengthening of the laws, if need be.

To that end, they want the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Registrar-General to explain why openly gay people are not being charged with criminal offences and why they are being allowed to form lobby groups.

The MPs, of course, have every right to express themselves and to campaign against practices and lifestyles they consider repugnant to their cultural and religious mores.

It may well be that they are alarmed by some recent cases of high-profile personalities coming out of the closet and the growing visibility of gay rights campaigns.

However, one must also wonder whether the group has its priorities right. It is probable that the MPs have been inspired by the strong anti-gay laws passed in some African countries, notably neighbouring Uganda.

It is also likely that they want to make a statement aimed at American President Barack Obama, who has become a stringent critic of the Ugandan laws.

If that is the case, then it should be apparent that the MPs’ caucus is inspired more by the need to score political propaganda points rather than to safeguard sexual morality. It is true that Kenya has laws against homosexual sex, but the MPs cannot demand that people be jailed merely because they declare that they are gay.

As lawmakers, they should know that the police act on evidence of crimes committed, not on declaration of preferences. The MPs should also be cautious that they do not incite hatred or violence against a small and vulnerable minority.

The MPs would spend their valuable time much better turning their sights on corruption, insecurity, crime, unemployment, and  poverty.

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