Kenya Appeal Court allows registration of LGBT organisation

On 22 March 2019, Kenyan Court of Appeal ruled that the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) should be allowed to officially register as a national NGO.

Of the five-judge bench, three judges dismissed an appeal by the NGO Coordination Board, which sought to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Kenyans the right to associate.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission brought a successful challenge before the Kenya High Court in 2015 after the NGO Coordination Board refused to register the organisation on the basis that it was for gay and lesbian people. The Court ruled that under Articles 27 and 36 of the Constitution of Kenya, every person has the right to freedom of association irrespective of their sexual orientation.

Speaking after the ruling on Friday, Njeri Gateru, Executive Director of SRT grantee NGLHRC, said:
‘The judges have chosen to stand by the constitution that allows for like-minded persons to meet and organise, formally. The ruling only brings inclusivity and sets a positive precedent for other rights organisations, in Kenya and around Africa.’

This victory follows the 2018 Court of Appeal victory in Kenya on the unconstitutionality of forced anal examinations to ‘prove’ same-sex conduct. A ruling in a constitutional case led by NGLHRC challenging the lawfulness of Sections 162, 163 and 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code, laws that criminalise same-sex intimacy, is expected on 24 May 2019.

Sections 162, 163 and 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code, which were introduced into the law books during the British colonial rule over 100 years ago make it a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison to ‘have carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ and for consenting adult men to engage in ‘gross indecency’ with up to 5 years in prison. Such laws are widely used to stigmatise, harass and discriminate against LGBT people.

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