Lawyer seeks to have government compelled to register lobby to champion gay rights

BY PAMELA CHEPKEMEI

Nairobi, Kenya: The Government has been sued for refusing to register a Non-Governmental   Organisation to cater for the interests of gays and lesbians in Kenya.

The case has been lodged at the High Court in Nairobi by a lawyer, Eric Gitari who is accusing the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordination Board of refusing to accept his application for registration.

The lawyer who says has been championing the rights of gays, lesbians, and transgender people since 2010, wants the court to compel the NGO Board to facilitate the registration of the lobby.

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Gitari has asked the court to issue an order declaring that the NGO Board and the Attorney General have contravened the Constitution in failing to accord just and fair treatment to gay and lesbian people in Kenya.

He accuses the Board of discriminating against lesbians and gays contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.

High Court Judge, Isaac Lenaola on Wednesday directed the NGO Board and the AG to file their responses within 21 days. The court will give directions on the hearing on December 2.

Gitari says he forwarded three names to the NGO Board but they were rejected. He was informed that the names are no acceptable and he has to review them.

He proposed three names, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, National Coalition of Gays and Lesbians in Kenya, and National Gay and Lesbian Human rights Association.

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The reason given by the NGO Board, was that the names were not acceptable because the penal code under Section 12 criminalises gay and lesbian liaisons.

Gitari says he made it clear to the NGO Board that the lobby was not intended to further criminalised activities of gay persons as stipulated in the penal code but was intended for purposes of furthering the wellbeing of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender groups who are a minority group in Kenya.

Despite the letter clarifying the issues, Gitari says the NGO Board has refused to approve the names he forwarded.

Gitari contends that he sought to exercise his constitutional right  as  established under  Article 36  by way of forming  an NGO to enable him  address the plight of homosexuals ‘ bisexuals and  transgender persons in the society.

He argues that the lobby should be registered because the Constitution provides that the State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground including sex.

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