-KNHCR calls on Kenyans to protect rights of gays and lesbians
-Call came only a day after US President Barack Obama backed same sex marriage
-KNHCR report backed rights of commercials sex workers
-Proposals want Govt to decriminalise prostitution
By Standard Digital Reporter
Faith groups have strongly opposed proposals to enact laws that protect sex workers and homosexuals. This in the same week when United States President Barack Obama declared he supports calls for same-sex marriages.
Debate was touched off locally last week when the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights launched a report on sexual and reproductive health rights. The report recommended decriminalizing sex work and homosexuality to help end discrimination.
This drew immediate criticism from Muslim and Christian religious leaders. A group called Kenya Christian Professionals plans to challenge the KNCHR proposals in court.
In response to the criticism, KNCHR commissioner Lawrence Mute sent an article to media houses calling on Kenyans to protect the rights of sexual minorities. He says the contents of the report are being misrepresented by those opposed to better rights for sexual minorities. Mute says the inquiry found sex workers, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender and intersex persons, all suffer “numerous human rights violations”.
These include “discrimination, stigma, exclusion from decision making, limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, violence and harassment”. Decriminalization, he says, will help address these public health and human rights challenges.
The Release Political Prisoners (RPP) Trust, a human rights organisation, has supported the position taken by KNCHR.
“We oppose any attempt by sections of the religious sector to stifle informed, open and honest public debate on this important issue on the basis of their own perceptions and beliefs on private morality,” the RPP Trust said in a statement sent to media houses. The body challenged the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to investigate religious groups allegedly promoting hatred and discrimination against non-heterosexuals and commercial sex workers in their recent utterances.
“RPP notes that the Constitution protects all Kenyans against any form of discrimination,” said acting Executive Coordinator Odhiambo Oyoko. He pointed to attacks on non-heterosexuals seeking medical support for HIV treatment as evidence Kenya needs anti-discrimination laws. In 2009, gay men were attacked and prevented from accessing a KEMRI facility in Mtwapa.