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CJ wants courts let to resolve same sex marriage debate

By - | May 15th 2012

By Willis Oketch

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has said the Supreme Court if asked will shed light on same sex marriages.

Mutunga noted judges should, therefore, not be pressured to state their positions on a recent speech by President Barack Obama, in which he supported same sex marriages.

Mutunga said only the Supreme Court can end anxiety caused by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) report, which supports gay marriages.

He described contradicting views on the matter as “healthy” and encouraging.

“There are varying interpretations on this,” he said and added: “Let Kenyans go to court to seek an interpretation of the Constitution.”

The CJ was speaking in Mombasa after attending a forum on reviewing rules of the Supreme Court.

“If you want a definite interpretation, begin at the lower court, then the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.” During his vetting by Parliament in 2010, Mutunga denied being a homosexual but said he does not deny the existence of such people.  

The CJ further said the rules of the Supreme Court should be simplified to enable lawyers and ordinary Kenyans understand them. He noted although the rules were mainly developed for lawyers, it was time they should be understood by ordinary people.

“As you embark on reviewing Supreme Court rules, you should bear in mind that the guidelines are intended mainly for lawyers but they should as far as possible be comprehensible to ordinary citizens,” said Mutunga.

Outlawed marriages

The CJ said some of Supreme Court’s rules created last year, for instance that which bars lawyers with less than seven years of practice from appearing before it, are constitutional.

“The jurisprudence we want to create has to be reinforced by these rules. We need to create a robust, indigenous, patriotic and progressive jurisprudence,” Mutunga told Justices Jackton Boma Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala, Mohamed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndung’u among other senior judicial officers.

Meanwhile, Roads Minister Franklin Bett has called on Kenyans to reject in totality a report by KNCHR advocating for same sex marriages.

Bett said the proposal was illegal as it contravenes the chapter on the Bill of Rights in the New Constitution, which outlaws marriages of same sex.

– Additional reporting by Peter Mutai


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