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Kenya’s Highest Court Rules to Keep Gay Sex Ban

Kenya

Kenya’s highest court has ruled that it will not reverse its colonial-era ban on gay sex, keeping it in-line with more than 70 countries that continue to persecute and criminalize LGBTQ+ people.

Kenyan LGBTQ+ activists have pushed the case through the courts, arguing that the country’s constitution guarantees the “state shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground,” according to the New York Times.

Activists may have had reason to be hopeful, since, as the Associated Press reports, Kenya had ruled in favor of LGBTQ+ rights on a few separate occasions despite having a generally conservative bench. In 2015, it said a government agency had to recognize a LGBTQ+ rights organization. Last year, it ruled that forced anal exams to test whether two men had gay sex was unconstitutional. Currently, Kenya punishes people found to be having gay sex with up to 14 years in prison.

Like Kenya, many of the countries that still persecute sex between people of the same gender are former British colonies, the Times reports. During that era, Britain enforced laws banning same-sex relationships, but after gaining independence, most countries had failed to keep those laws in place. Meanwhile, the UK repealed its own criminalization laws in 1967 and gay sex remained illegal in some parts of the US until the Supreme Court’s ruling for Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. Slowly, some former colonies have been easing these laws like Belize in 2016 and Trinidad and Tobago in 2017.

 

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