Wednesday, June 12, 2024

LGBTQ Rights Under Threat in Kenya, The Country Considers Joining Anti-LGBTQ Wave in East Africa

The LGBTQ community in Kenya is facing the threat of a new law currently being drafted in the country. Kenya appears to be following the footsteps of Uganda , which has already passed similar legislation. This move against LGBTQ rights has sparked strong opposition from human rights activists and organizations in Kenya.

As Reuters reported, the author of the proposed law openly declared his intention to “completely expel LGBT people from Kenya.” Uganda enacted one of the harshest anti-LGBTQ+ laws globally. Activists describe it as “vile” and “deadly.” The draft law in Kenya mirrors this approach by proposing severe penalties for engaging in homosexual acts.

According to Reuters, two Kenyan legislators have expressed support for a draft bill called the “family protection bill.” It seeks to impose a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for engaging in homosexual acts. It also imposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” The latter includes engaging in homosexual acts with a minor or disabled person and transmitting a terminal disease through sexual means.

The proposed legislation in Kenya introduces new crimes, such as “promoting” homosexuality or allowing gay sex on one’s property. Each carrying a minimum prison sentence of five years. A legislative panel is currently reviewing the proposed legislation, and it may proceed to a full vote in the chamber.

Strengthening Existing Anti-LGBTQ Laws

If passed, this new proposed legislation against LGBT rights would further strengthen the existing anti-gay laws in Kenya, where individuals found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts already face prison terms ranging from five to fourteen years. Kenya currently lacks legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. While same-sex relationships are not recognized, sex between women is not explicitly illegal.

Annette Atieno, a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, expressed her concerns.

“It is a hateful piece of legislation that will truly make the lives of queer Kenyans unbearable if passed,” the activist told Reuters.

This sentiment echoes the sentiments of many who fear the potential impact on the lives and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya. Tanzania and South Sudan, where homosexual activity is already illegal, also are introducing similar legislation to further suppress LGBTQ+ rights, according to Reuters. Tanzanian lawmaker Jacqueline Ngonyani has announced plans to introduce anti-LGBTQ+ legislation later this year. She citied the need to “control the ongoing moral decay,” as the reason behind such measures.

The United States issued a travel advisory for its citizens, urging them to “reconsider travel” to Uganda after the country passed its strict anti-LGBTQ+ law in May. The advisory cited “crime, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation” as reasons for concern.


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