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MPs hailed for approving intersex person for state job

Past session in Parliament [Courtesy]

Members of Parliament have approved the first intersex to serve as a commissioner of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

Dennis Nyongesa Wamalwa was approved by the House following his nomination by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The self-confessed intersex was approved alongside Roseline Doreen Adhiambo Odhiambo-Odede (chairperson), Prof Marion Wanjiku Mutugi, Dr Raymond Plal Sangsang Nyeris and Sara Talaso Bonaya.

The decision by the lawmakers places Mr Wamalwa as the first Kenyan of the third gender to occupy a high-ranking public office. During vetting, he narrated to Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) the human rights violations he has been subjected to because of his gender. He told the Kangema MP Muturi Kigano-led committee that intersex – individual born with a combination of male and female biological traits –  are misunderstood and largely suffer from discrimination.

The university don told the committee he would use his position to implement proposals on intersex persons as well as integration in the curriculum to create awareness. “The nominee said his vision is to advance a culture for respect of human rights for all people and that he would work to implement the taskforce proposals on intersex persons and integration in the curriculum to create awareness,” reads JLAC report.

There are a total 1,524 intersex people in Kenya, according to the 2019 population census. MPs, while approving the names commended the committee for taking care of the minority. “For the first time in this country, a self-confessed intersex individual will be nominated to a national independent commission,” said Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma said that was a bold move. “This would be the first person joining a government agency of that magnitude,” said the MP.

The approval of the nominees by the House on Tuesday now paves the way for the President to formally appoint them to take up their roles at the commission.