High Court pushes gay sex ruling - VIDEO - Daily Nation

High Court pushes gay sex ruling, says judges busy

Friday February 22 2019

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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By AFP
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The High Court has postponed to May, its ruling on the decriminalisation of gay sex in Kenya, citing a heavy case load.

The much-anticipated judgment was to be delivered Friday morning but judge Chacha Mwita said it was not ready as some judges had been busy. Some of those in the matter are part of benches handling other cases, Mr Mwita said.

"The files are above my height... we are still working," the judge said, adding that one of his colleagues was on leave.

"We plan to meet in April if all goes well and see whether we can come up with a decision. You do not appreciate what the judges are going through."

He set the decision, on whether to scrap colonial-era laws which criminalise homosexuality, for May 24.

DISAPPOINTMENT

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, a section of the penal code stating that anyone who has "carnal knowledge... against the order of nature" can be imprisoned for 14 years.

Another section provides for a five-year jail term for "indecent practices between males".

Gay rights organisations are asking the court to scrap these two sections.

On social media, Kenya's LGBT community and allies have been anxiously counting down the hours to the ruling.

"To say we are disappointed would be an understatement," the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council (NGLHRC), one of the petitioners, wrote on Twitter.

Prominent commentator Patrick Gathara slammed a "sad, sad day" for the judiciary, describing the postponement as "ludicrous".

'NON-ISSUE'

A three-judge bench will deliver the ruling following petitions filed by rights organisations in 2016, which are being contested by a Christian organisation.

The petition was initially filed in 2016, and activists had been eagerly awaiting the decision, which could reverberate around Africa where several nations are grappling with similar laws.

However, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said time and again that gay rights is not a burning issue for Kenya at the moment.

President Kenyatta also says same-sex relations are not an issue of human rights, but rather of "our own base as a culture”.

There has been hope, however, for decriminalisation of gay sex and activists believe the court has a chance to blaze a trail on the continent.