Kenya's Judges Uphold Laws That Criminalize Gay Sex

Legal Compliance

Kenya's High Court has chosen to uphold colonial-era laws that criminalize gay sex, dashing the hopes of activists who believed the judges would overturn sections of the penal code as unconstitutional and inspire a sea change across the continent.

Three judges said Friday that the laws in question did not target the LGBTQ community. They were not convinced that people's basic rights had been violated, they said.

"We are not persuaded by the petitioners that the offenses against them are overboard," one of the judges said, according local media.

The case stems from to a petition filed in 2016 by activist Eric Gitari, with the support of organizations serving LGBTQ Kenyans. They argued that two sections of Kenya's penal code violated people's rights: Article 162 penalizes "carnal knowledge ... against the order of nature" with up to 14 years in prison, and Article 165 castigates "indecent practices between males" with the possibility of five years' imprisonment.

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