In a blow to the LGBTQI movement in Africa, Kenya’s High Court ruled Friday that a colonial-era law banning same-s-x relations should remain in place.
Same-s-x relations have been banned since the British colonized Kenya in the late 19th century. Kenya’s penal code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Anyone found engaging in same-sex relationships could face up to 14 years in prison.
In declining to decriminalize same-s-x relations, the Kenya High Court said there was not enough evidence of discrimination against the LGBTQI community and therefore it upheld the ban.
LGBTQI campaigners in the country have been fighting to have the law struck out but have faced a long wait after several postponements by the courts since the case was first brought in 2016 to repeal sections of the Kenyan penal code.
The decision was not unexpected. Before the ruling, Waruguru Gaitho, a human rights lawyer at the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), had said: “We are prepared for it to be a protracted struggle. We are well aware that the court process is very long and we are well aware that this is a heavily contested issue. Allows multiple appeals. So we will continue to make our case for equality. “