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 dismissed the appeal by the NGO coordination board, agreeing with the High Court that ALL, including LGBT persons, should be allowed to form an organization and that what is criminalized is the act (in the penal code) and not the person, the Kenyan.
— The Commission (@NGLHRC) March 22, 2019
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.