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Kenyan gays and lesbians celebrate landmark ruling

27 April 2015, 18:47 Victor Tinto

Nairobi - Kenyan Gays and Lesbians can now form their own body to defend human rights violations and other matters, the High Court has ruled.

The High Court ruled Monday that the NGOs Coordination Board allow, recognize and register an umbrella body for gays and lesbians.

This follows an earlier move by the NGO board to block the application which it had said did not suffice on moral and religious grounds.

A three judge panel ruled that the Constitution allows recognition and protection of the rights of  “every person”, including minority groups such as gays and lesbians.

Judges Issac Lenaola, Mumbi Ngugi and George Odunga made the ruling.

The petition was filed by a Mr Eric Gitari who felt aggrieved that his efforts to register the NGO were unfairly shot down on grounds that were unconstitutional.

" We declare that the respondents (AG, NGO and Civil Societies) have contravened the provisions of Articles 36 of the Constitution in failing to accord just and fair treatment to gay and lesbian persons living in Kenya seeking registration of an association of their choice," the judges said in their ruling.

The move will thus pave the way for what should be a bold body of Gays and Lesbians which has gained a strong footing in Kenya in recent years.

Homosexuality in its act is illegal in Kenya, but the right of association is constitutionally guaranteed.

The country’s Penal Code criminalizes sodomy. Under this law, a “person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature or permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature” commits a felony, punishable on conviction by a fourteen-year prison term. An attempt to commit an unnatural offense, also a crime, is , punishable on conviction by a seven-year prison term.

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