Kenya High Court upholds 122-year-old law banning gay sex

Kenya’s High Court has ruled against scrapping a 122-year-old law making gay sex punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

Campaigners had launched a bid to revoke the law on the basis that it violated the country’s 2010 constitution, which ensures equality, dignity and privacy for all.

But after delaying the case for three years, the High Court on Friday declared the legislation, imposed by 19th century British colonialists, was not unconstitutional.

Justice Roselyn Aburili told a packed courtroom in Kenya’s capital Nairobi: ‘We hereby decline the relief sought and dismiss the combined petition.

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




Aburili said the constitution still outlaws same-sex marriage but that allowing gay sex would ‘open the door for same sex unions.’

Activists were seen sobbing outside the court as the jury returned their verdict, while those in support of the law shouted ‘thank you’ as they held placards reading ‘homosexuality is an abomination’.

Kenya’s LGBT community has been rocked by some 1,500 attacks since 2014, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said.

It warned the ruling would fuel homophobic sentiment in a country whose President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has branded anti-LGBT rights a ‘non-issue’.

One of its legislators, Aden Duale, was once reported saying homosexuality is ‘as serious as terrorism’.




New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s senior LGBT rights researcher, Neela Ghoshal, said the Nairobi verdict reduced Kenya’s gay people to ‘second-class’ citizens.

Activist Eric Gitari said: ‘We will appeal. We expect that the court of appeal will overturn this erroneous decision which in our view is very biased’.

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