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Critics of CJ remarks on gay rights misled

By | September 14th 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

A few days ago Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was a chief guest during the launch of Fida office in Kampala, Uganda. Speaking to the human rights defenders who graced the occasion, Dr Mutunga confined his statement to issues of human rights and social justice. From the word go, he made it clear he did not intend to focus on controversies that existed in the Constitution and other legislations. This was in respect to some aspects of human rights.

Reading the CJ’s body language and tone of his remarks, it was clear he made the statement in his personal capacity as veteran human rights defender. Having been briefed and the light of statements attributed to his hosts who spoke before him, it was given there was no way the CJ would have avoided the issue when he took to the floor.
Frontier of marginalisation

Mutunga observed that human rights encompass the rights of marginalised and minority groupings. Giving as an example, he cited gay rights as one of the frontier of marginalisation. Generally, we should learn to discuss and debate the issues of minority sobrely. Apparently, he was alluding to the fact that one cannot talk of human rights in isolation of those of the marginalised.

It is not lost over the years whenever these rights are raised the society reacts with anger and emotion, blanket condemnation and outright dismissal of practices.
During his entire speech, the CJ avoided the issue of whether or not the Kenyan Constitution guaranteed the rights. This showed he was a reputable, respectable and intelligent leader. He knew he was in a foreign land but on the other hand he knew matters of human rights are universal and so there was nothing wrong to share his insights with Ugandans.
Besides, Mutunga is on record as saying he will be guided by the Constitution in discharging his mandate. He said the Constitution captured the aspirations and wishes of the people. He therefore said he will protect and ensure it is interpreted as written.
And in light of judicial reforms so far undertaken, it is clear he has lived to his word. Suffice to mention, the issue of whether or not Dr Mutunga supported gay rights featured prominently during the vetting and confirmation hearings for his candidature. In reference to his ear stud, Mutunga avoided giving direct answer on whether he supported the gay rights but said he supported and he will continue to support minority rights.
It is thus wrong for critics to take issue with CJ’s gay talk during the Uganda event.
{Joseph Mutua, Nairobi}

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