Days after Binyavanga Wainaina’s death, Kenya upholds law criminalizing gay sex

Days after Kenyan author and LGBT activist Binyavanga Wainaina passed away, the country’s High Court has ruled against campaigners seeking to overturn a law banning gay sex.

The judges rejected claims that the colonial-era law violated the new constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy. The penal code criminalises “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” – widely understood to refer to anal intercourse between men.  Gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Kenya’s National Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission says it has dealt with 15 prosecutions under the penal codes in 2018, with no convictions. But it had argued for the law to be scrapped because it gives rise to a climate of homophobia.

In 2016, LGBT rights activists filed a case with Kenya’s High Court saying that homosexual relations should be decriminalised. They argued that the state has no business regulating matters of intimacy. The case wasn’t heard until February 2018 and a verdict was initially expected in February 2019 but delayed until Friday.

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