Religious leaders, MPs clash with Supreme Court over LGBTQ rights

Some of the Mombasa residents who turned up at Makadara Grounds in Mombasa County on Friday 15th September 2023, during an anti-LGBTQ campaign. [Kelvin Karani,Standard]

The Supreme Court's decision to allow the registration of LGBTQ+ groups in Kenya has sparked a heated debate among religious leaders and members of parliament, who have vowed to resist any attempts to legalize same-sex relationships in the country.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, who led a group of MPs on Monday, August 18, in criticizing the court's ruling, said they will not allow any discussion about LGBTQ+ in parliament.

"We will not entertain such debates in parliament. This is a God-fearing nation that people fear God," said Cherargei.

The MPs also urged religious leaders to come forward and rebuke LGBTQ+ groups in the country, claiming that they have contributed to children's moral deviation.

Earlier this year, President William Ruto said he would not allow Kenyans to be forced to get involved in foreign affairs.

"I think the Constitution is very clear, that marriage is a man and a wife. Let's pray for our judges so that they can make decisions not to please the Western world," he said.

However, the Supreme Court dismissed a bid by Homabay Town MP Peter Kaluma to ban LGBTQ+ associations, saying that he had no locus standi (right to appear before a court) to file the case for a review of their decision.

The court also said that the applicant had not demonstrated that the decision was obtained by fraud or deceit, or that the court was misled into giving its judgment.

The court's decision was a win for the minority LGBTQ+ groups, who have been seeking recognition and protection of their rights in Kenya.

The groups argued that they have a right to form associations under the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Meanwhile, Muslim and Christian clerics at the Coast on Saturday led a demonstration in Mombasa to denounce the Supreme Court ruling, calling for severe punishment for those culpable of practicing or promoting LGBTQ+.

The clerics also asked President Ruto to "unequivocally denounce LGBTQ+" like his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni. They alleged that Ruto "appears to sit on the fence, fearing the wrath of the Western nations".

The demonstration was attended by hundreds of faithful who chanted 'Allah-Hu-Akbar' (Allah is great) as their leaders condemned the court's ruling as an affront to their religious beliefs and values.