Foreign Policy Digital

Kenya’s Bid for LGBT Equality Hits a Wall

Judges declined to overturn colonial-era laws criminalizing same-sex relationships. Human Rights Watch’s Neela Ghoshal says it’s a setback with regional repercussions.

A three-year legal challenge from Kenya’s LGBT community that aimed to overturn sections of the country’s legal code that criminalize LGBT relationships has faltered. In Nairobi, a panel of judges determined on May 24 that the court would uphold the laws, which stem from a generic colonial-era legal template found across many Commonwealth countries that banned “carnal knowledge against nature.” Although prosecutions under the law are rare, they underwrite violence and discrimination, and they have been a key target for the country’s LGBT activists for years.

Last year, India made the historic move to dismantle its own set of colonial-era anti-LGBT laws. The Supreme Court cited their incompatibility with the protections wrapped up in the country’s constitution. The Kenyan decision then comes as a harsh reminder that LGBT Kenyans’ rights and full inclusion

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