Kenya’s high court unanimously upholds ban on gay sex

Court GavelKenya’s high court on Friday upheld a law banning gay sex, keeping same sex relations punishable by 14 years in jail in the East African nation and drawing strong criticism from the United Nations and rights activists.

Same-sex relationships are a crime in more than 70 countries around the world, almost half of them in Africa. Neighbouring Uganda once enacted a law imposing a life sentence for certain acts of gay sex although it was later nullified by court.

South Africa is the only African nation to have legalised gay marriage.

“We hereby decline the relief sought and dismiss the combined petition,” Justice Roselyn Aburili told a packed courtroom in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, relaying the unanimous opinion of the three-justice panel.

“We find that the impugned sections are not unconstitutional, accordingly the combined petitions have no merit.”

Some gay rights activists wept outside the courtroom after the verdict while supporters of the ban clapped, congratulated each other and yelled “thank you” at the judges’ bench.

Other people backing the ban held placards outside the court with messages, including “homosexuality is an abomination.”

Campaigners who filed the petition to decriminalise gay sex argued that the law violated Kenya’s 2010 constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy for all citizens.

“We will appeal. We expect that the court of appeal will overturn this erroneous decision which in our view is very biased,” said Eric Gitari, one of the petitioners.

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