Court victory for Kenya’s LGBT community

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LGBT activists arrive to attend a court hearing in the Milimani high Court in Nairobi on February 22, 2019. - Kenya's High Court on February 22, 2019, postponed a much-anticipated ruling on whether to scrap colonial-era laws which criminalise homosexuality, citing a heavy case load. The delay was met with dismay by Kenya's LGBT community and their allies, who have been anxiously awaiting a ruling on the petition, which was filed three years ago. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
LGBT activists arrive to attend a court hearing in the Milimani high Court in Nairobi on February 22, 2019. – Kenya’s High Court on February 22, 2019, postponed a much-anticipated ruling on whether to scrap colonial-era laws which criminalise homosexuality, citing a heavy case load. The delay was met with dismay by Kenya’s LGBT community and their allies, who have been anxiously awaiting a ruling on the petition, which was filed three years ago. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Court of Appeal in Nairobi, Kenya, has granted a major win to the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community after dismissing an appeal seeking to block the registration of an organization to defend gay rights.

This comes after Kenya’s NGO coordination board refused to register the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGHLRC), saying that Kenya’s penal code “criminalises gay and lesbian liaisons”.

The Commission tweeted about the victory on Friday:

Three judges – Philip Waki, Asike Makhandia and Martha Koome- dismissed the position to dismiss by the NGO coordination board, affirming the decision of the High Court.

Justice Waki noted that the LGBT community has a right to freedom of association and that the criminal procedure code does not criminalise those that want to form such a group.

“The issue of LGBT is rarely discussed in public. But it cannot be doubted that it is an emotive issue, the reality is that this group does exit and we can no longer deny that,” said Justice Waki.

This was supported by Justice Makhandia, who said: “In a society that is diverse as Kenya, there is need for tolerance and in any democratic society there will always be a marginalised group. This appeal therefore lacks merit and is dismissed.”

However, the decision was not unanimous. Other judges argued that the case had the capacity of “destroying the cultural values” of Kenyans, and should not be allowed.

Sexual minorities in Kenya are subject to discrimination and the penal code does not recognise same-sex relations

However, Kenya’s LGBT community is also awaiting another significant ruling, expected on 24 May, that challenges the criminalisation of same-sex relationships in Kenya.

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