Is Kenya Next?
February 19th, 2014
Uganda’s neighbor to the east has been spared some of the more excessive displays of anti-gay hatred commonly found along its western border. That may be about to change:
Five MPs have declared an onslaught on homosexuality, which includes rallying the public to arrest gay people where police fail to act.
Through a newly formed parliamentary caucus, the lawmakers will also be rallying their colleagues in Parliament to fully enforce relevant parts of the law that prohibits gay practice.
The caucus to fight gayism in Kenya was launched on Tuesday to coordinate all plans and activities meant to fight it.
It was announced in Parliament just a day after US President Barack Obama issued a statement urging Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni not to sign into law a Bill banning gayism in the neighbouring country.
The MPs want the National Security Committee of the National Assembly to summon the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Registrar General of Companies to explain how gay practice continues to thrive in the country despite being prohibited in the laws of the land.
Mr Irungu Kang’ata (Kiharu), Mr Julius Ndegwa (Lamu West) Mr John Njoroge (Kasarani), Mr Clement Wambugu (Mathioya) and Mr Stephen Kinyanjui (Kinangop) said they will lobby Kenyans to maintain harsh anti-gay laws and Parliament to tighten the current law.
Kenya’s colonial-era sodomy law currently provides up to fourteen years’ imprisonment upon conviction. Daily Nation warns that the MPs are “stoking intolerance“:
It may well be that they are alarmed by some recent cases of high-profile personalities coming out of the closet and the growing visibility of gay rights campaigns.
However, one must also wonder whether the group has its priorities right. It is probable that the MPs have been inspired by the strong anti-gay laws passed in some African countries, notably neighbouring Uganda.
It is also likely that they want to make a statement aimed at American President Barack Obama, who has become a stringent critic of the Ugandan laws.
If that is the case, then it should be apparent that the MPs’ caucus is inspired more by the need to score political propaganda points rather than to safeguard sexual morality. It is true that Kenya has laws against homosexual sex, but the MPs cannot demand that people be jailed merely because they declare that they are gay.
Kenyan gay rights activist Denis Nzioka worries that pressure may be building for Ugandan- or Nigerian-style anti-gay legislation. And as with Uganda, he sees American Evangelical influence as part of the problem:
Consider, for example, Project SEE , an American organisation, that has been campaigning against homosexuality and abortion in Kenya. They took things further in 2008/9 when they designed posters calling for the murder of the then most visible gay activist at that time, David Kuria.
…In 2011/12, I was able to detail the influence – subtle at first – of American evangelical churches in the rising anti-gay wave that is sweeping Kenyan in 2014.
The East Africa Center for Law and Justice waded into the homosexuality arena when it published several articles – from 2010 – on homosexuality. Clearly leaning towards not accepting homosexuality, the heavily US Evangelical funded, supported organsiation continued with its anti-gay literary all through to 2013 .
The East Africa Center for Law and Justice is an overseas branch of the American Center for Law and Justice, which was founded by Pat Robertson and is currently headed by Jay Sekulow. Political Research Associates’ Kapya Kaoma reported on the ACLJ and EACLJ (and another ACLJ affiliate in Zimbabwe) in 2010:
As in many other African countries, Kenya’s colonial-era penal code already criminalized gay sex; however, the constitution that the Parliament submitted to Kenyans for ratification in August 2010 was silent on homosexuality while barring discrimination of any kind. The EACLJ feared that would create a loophole for homosexuality (and the local LGBT community agreed). The proposed constitution also protected access to abortions deemed medically necessary to protect the health of the woman, which Jordan Sekulow characterized as “abortion on demand” to CBN News’ Morning program. He added that ACLJ was “trying to educate people on this [abortion on demand] because the government of Kenya is saying that this is not what it means; but we know how it plays in courts.” Despite their efforts and investing “tens of thousands” of dollars (according to Sekulow), the ACLJ and its allies were unable to change the draft or defeat the constitution at the polls in August 2010.
Yet even these minor concessions to protecting LGBT persons and women’s lives cannot stand, according to the director of the East African Center for Law and Justice.“The current constitution promotes gay rights and abortion,” Joy Mdivo, the executive director, told PRA. “We are working on going to court over those two issues. We shall also carry out further civic education to warn people of the dangers of homosexuality and abortion in Kenya.”