Kenya: MPs and Catholic Bishops Oppose Gay Rights

May 22, 2023
Kenya Supreme Court

In a 3 to 2 majority decision, the Kenya Supreme Court ruled against the government for refusing to register an association for LGBT people, finding that the decision was discriminatory against the rights of the community.

The decision has aroused strong opposition since the end of last February. Catholic MPs in Kenya have even threatened the National Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with dissolution if it accepts membership from a homosexual pressure group.

Same-sex unions remain illegal in Kenya, and anyone found guilty of homosexual acts – a “carnal crime contrary to the order of nature” – faces a 14-year prison sentence. The Supreme Court had been challenged by the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission of Kenya (NGLHRC), whose members were calling for the legislation to be abolished.

“The Court held that the [government's] decision was discriminatory and that it would be unconstitutional to limit the right to associate, by denying the registration of an association, solely on the basis of the applicants' sexual orientation,” is contained in the Supreme Court’s judgment.

This decision has met with strong opposition, especially from politicians, Protestant communities, and Catholic bishops in the country. Catholic MPs warned the National NGO Council that it would face “negative consequences” if it were to accept possible NGLHRC membership.

If this were to happen, the Council could therefore serve as an intermediary to demand the decriminalization of same-sex relations in the country. Catholic parliamentarians have warned that they would then propose the dissolution of the coalition of NGOs active in Kenya, which has 12,000 members.

MP Innocent Obiri condemned the Supreme Court decision. He invited the judges to review their judgment “in favor of morals, culture, religion and especially the 2010 Constitution.” He further urged the media to stop covering this subject in their programs, as it “increases the popularity of vice.”

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has come out against allowing an association of the LGBT community to be registered as an NGO. “The February 24, 2023 ruling by the Supreme Court of Kenya regarding the right of association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people is unconstitutional, unwelcome and must be withdrawn,” the Bishops said March 10. They recalled the immorality of homosexuality, contrary to natural law, and condemned by the Church, citing Holy Scripture.

The bishops called on the government to remember its “constitutional responsibility and moral obligation to safeguard and protect the family from LGBT ideology and other threats.”

“The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support the legal recognition of same-sex unions. Differentiating between people or denying social recognition or benefits is only unacceptable when it is contrary to justice.”

“The common good demands that laws recognize, promote, and protect marriage as the foundation of the family, the primary unit of society. At this point, we reiterate what is enshrined in the Constitution, namely that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” they stressed.

It should be noted that Pope Francis, on the plane bringing him back from his trip to the DRC and South Sudan on February 5, 2023, called on all countries to decriminalize homosexuality. Homosexual acts are punishable by law in 69 UN member states. Of those, 32 are on the African continent.