A recent Supreme Court judgment on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) has received sharp criticism from a section of Kenyans across the political divide.
On Friday, February 24, the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled that the Non-Governmental Organizations Board’s decision to bar homosexuals from forming recognised groups was discriminatory.
The court stated that despite homosexuality being illegal in Kenya, members of the LGBTQ still have a right of association.
The ruling means that members of the LGBTQ community have now powers to seek formal recognition by the NGO Co-ordination Board.
A section of Kenyans and leaders have condemned the court's judgement, claiming that if it is allowed to stand, it will erode moral integrity and societal values.
On his part, President William Ruto dismissed the court ruling saying, Kenya is a Christian nation and would not endorse "gayism nor lesbianism".
“We respect the Supreme Court’s decision, but it doesn’t mean that we have to agree with it. Our values, customs, and Christianity do not allow us to support same-sex marriages,” the President said.
“We have laws that govern us here in Kenya. I want to tell you that won’t be possible… it can happen in other countries but not here,” said Ruto, when he met a group of women at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi on Thursday.
His statement was echoed by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua who said that the Kenya Kwanza administration will not endorse same-sex relations.
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“We will not entertain that kind of talk here. That is the devil’s doing. The president of this country is God-fearing, he will do what needs to be done. In any case, we have our traditions and customs, and what they are suggesting is repugnant to morality and justice and our way of life,” Gachagua said on Thursday.
Parliament and the church have also condemned the ruling, calling for a re-examination that adheres to the country's established values and integrity.
However, what exactly is the LGBTQ+ community?
According to Vanderbilt University, there exists 20 terminologies used to refer to people with different sexual orientation.
They are Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Aromantic, Pansexual, Non-Binary, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Agender, Stud, Māhū, Muxe and Heterosexism, Cisgender and LGBTQ2S+ Ally.
A lesbian refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation toward women. Some non-binary people also identify with this term.
A gay on the other hand is used in some cultural settings to represent men who are attracted to men in a romantic, erotic and/or emotional sense.
Bisexual or BI is a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree.
Transgender means a person whose sense of personal identity or gender does not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth, or does not conform to gender stereotypes. Sexual orientation varies and is not dependent on gender identity.
A Queer is a multi-faceted word that is used in different ways and means different things to different people.
One, it could mean attraction to people of many genders or people who don’t conform to cultural norms around gender and/or sexuality.
It could also be a general term referring to all non-heterosexual people. Some within the community, however, may feel the word has been hatefully used against them for too long and are reluctant to embrace it.
Other sexual orientation categories are:
Questioning: An individual who is unsure of and/or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
Intersex: An umbrella term that describes people born with any of 30 different variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals.
Asexual: A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. They may or may not experience emotional, physical, or romantic attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation, not a choice. People who are asexual may call themselves ace.
Aromantic: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior.
Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.
Non-Binary: A person whose gender identity does not fall within the binary genders of man or woman.
Genderfluid: A person who does not identify with the gender binary and move within genders and gender stereotypes.
Genderqueer: A person who does not identify or express their gender within the gender binary. Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither men nor women, may see themselves as outside of or in between the gender binary, or may simply feel restricted by gender labels.
Agender: a person with no (or very little) connection to gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender.
Stud: A term originating within communities of color to describe a masculine identifying person who was assigned female at birth. Here is a study looking at the sexuality and gender construction of people who use ‘stud’ to describe their identity.
Māhū :(‘in the middle’) in Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) and Maohi (Tahitian) cultures are third gender persons with traditional spiritual and social roles within the culture. Here are two videos to help you learn more about the Māhū culture.
Muxe: Derived from the Spanish word for woman (mujer), muxes generally represent Mexican people who are assigned male at birth and identify as different genders. The iterations among the muxe community and their self-identifications vary – some identify as male but are female-expressing, while others identify as female and are more closely associated with Western culture’s understanding of transgender. Others defy gender entirely. But, in Mexican culture, the term “third gender” is often tacked to the muxe community. This video and article can help you learn more about muxe culture and identity.
Heterosexism: Prejudice against individuals and groups who display non-heterosexual behaviors or identities, combined with the majority power to impose such prejudice. Usually used to the advantage of the group in power. Any attitude, action, or practice backed by an institutional power that subordinates people because of their sexual orientation.
Cisgender: A person whose sense of personal identity or gender does correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.
Lgbtq2s+ Ally: Someone who confronts heterosexism, anti- LGBTQ2S+ biases, heterosexual and cisgender privilege in themselves and others; believes that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are social justice issues.