Excitement, anger as Kenya awaits ruling on decriminalizing gay
Phelix Kasanda - affectionately called Mama G by his friends - spends most days in hiding, frightened his work as a prominent gay activist means he could be attacked again.
SEE ALSO :Botswana court legalises homosexuality“We normally report violence cases to the police station or law enforcers. But no action is being taken,” he said. Campaigners say the colonial-era law violates Kenya’s progressive 2010 constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy for all citizens. They also submitted arguments based on India’s rejection of a similar law in August. Decriminalization won’t stop prejudice, but it should end arrests and blackmail, and help rein in assaults and rapes if gay Kenyans no longer fear police, said the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of the petitioners against the law. The commission has recorded more than 1,500 such attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Kenyans since 2014. Many Christian and Muslim groups support the law, and the attorney general has argued decriminalizing gay sex could lead to legalizing same-sex marriage. “A gay lifestyle is a threat to our culture and the common good,” said Charles Kanjama, a lawyer for the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum. But after a gunman killed 49 people at the predominantly gay Pulse nightclub in America, the community held a public candle lit vigil. Last year a court temporarily lifted a ban to allow a locally-made film called “Rafiki”, which portrayed a lesbian relationship in Kenya, to compete at the Oscars. Three UK Conservatives quit the party in protest at "disastrous Brexit" Yet public rejection is likely to remain. President Uhuru Kenyatta has said “gay rights is really a non-issue”, while deputy president William Ruto said Kenya had “no room” for gays. Legislator Aden Duale once told parliament that homosexuality was “as serious as terrorism”. Many Kenyans, like retired military officer Stanley Muigai Kiama, say they will reject gay people regardless of any court ruling. “If animals cannot practise same sex how is it that a human being who is created in the image of God can actually pretend to enjoy homosexuality?” he asked. Either way the ruling goes, Kasanda fears further attacks - either as a backlash or by those who see the ruling as vindication. But Kasandra does not want to hide anymore. “I want to be who I am,” he said firmly.
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