Kenyan Fringe Political Party Proposes “Stone the Gays” Bill
August 14th, 2014
Kenya’s Daily Nation reported last Saturday that a tiny political party known as the Republican Liberty Party, has proposed a bill in that nation’s National Assembly modeled very closely after neighboring Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but with much harsher penalties.
The bill was proposed by the party’s legal secretary Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga, a Seventh Day Adventist who says he has never met a gay person in his entire life. The Republican Liberty Party is a tiny, fringe party, holding no seats in the National Assembly, no Senate seats, no governorships or significant county representation. The bill was reportedly referred to Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee for review.
Nzioka has obtained a copy of the proposed bill and posted it on his web site. Like Uganda’s original Anti-Homosexuality Bill first introduced in 2009, the Kenyan version also calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” but with a twist: it calls for death by public stoning, a particularly gruesome form of capital punishment where the victim is buried up to his neck, but with his head exposed before he is stoned to death. Much like Uganda’s bill, ordinary homosexuality would be punishable with a lifetime sentence for Kenyan citizens, but foreigners would also be put to death by public stoning. In an interview with Daily Nation, Nyakeriga expressed a particular fondness for the stoning clause:
He is emphatic that he is only the drafter of the Bill; the ideas belong to the Republican Liberty Party, a fringe political party without a single Member of Parliament, Governor or notable presence in any County Assembly. Stoning is a rare and cruel form of punishment applied only in places where extreme forms of Islam are practised such as Al-Shabaab strongholds. …[A]ccording to Mr Nyakeriga, “if Parliament is to amend anything, that clause should not be touched because it expresses our preferred extreme measure for deterrence.”
The Kenyan AHB is so closely modeled after Uganda’s that many clauses are virtually word-for-word copies, but with all penalties in the Kenyan version aside from those for “aggravated homosexuality” increased to lifetime imprisonment. Clause 11 of the Ugandan AHB would have criminalized landlords, as does Clause 11 of the Kenyan version, but with a lifetime sentence instead of Uganda’s five to seven years. Clause 13 of both bills promote “promotion” of homosexuality with very nearly identical language; the Ugandan version imposed a five to seven year sentence, Kenya’s version calls for life. Ditto for clause 14 of both bills, which required family members to report gay people to police. Uganda’s version called for three years’ imprisonment before it was eliminated in the final Anti-Homosexuality Act; Kenya’s, again, calls for life.
Prospects for the bill’s passage would seem unlikely at this time. Unlike the conditions in Uganda when its Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in 2009, Kenya has been comparatively quiet, although anti-gay violence does flare up from time to time. Last February, a group of MPs formed an anti-gay caucus, consisting MPs Irungu Kang’ata (Kiharu), Julius Ndegwa (Lamu West) John Njoroge (Kasarani), Clement Wambugu (Mathioya) Stephen Kinyanjui (Kinangop). The leader of Parliament’s anti-gay caucus expressed reservations about the bill:
Mr Irungu Kangata, the Kiharu MP and leader of Parliament’s anti-gay caucus, says that while he is “100 per cent anti-gay” the proposed penalties are out of sync with modern thinking.
He said the new ideas are to have lawbreakers counselled and rehabilitated unless they have been involved in violent crime.
“You must also ask yourself why you are punishing that person. You are punishing that person with a view of changing them and to deter. You don’t cure anything by celebrating the suffering of that person,” said Mr Kangata.
Kenyan LGBT rights activist Denis Nzioka added that “the Government in a terse response to the anti gay caucus said that the current laws are enough to deal with homosexuality and said there was no need to introduce new laws against same sex persons.” Kenya’s current laws, which were largely inherited from Britain’s colonial-era laws, imposes sentences ranging from five to fourteen years in prison, depending on how it would be prosecuted. Prosecutions are rare, but the laws’ presence has had the effect of encouraging police in their harassment of LGBT people.