May 24, 2019

Kenya upholds laws that criminalize gay sex

LGBT refugees from South Sudan, Uganda and DR Congo protest to demand protection at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nairobi. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Kenya's High Court ruled to uphold laws that criminalize gay sex and relationships on Friday, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: The decision upholds the status quo across much of Africa after the court decided that criminalizing gay sex does not violate Kenya's updated 2010 constitution, "which guarantees equality, dignity, and privacy."

Details: The ruling follows a 2016 lawsuit from LGBTQ activists, who argued that "matters of intimacy" should not be regulated by the state. Gay sex — and by extension, gay relationships — are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The other side: "The LGBT community in Kenya have created an amazing tribe and culture for themselves," Brian Macharia, an activist for the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, told the BBC. "There is a ballroom scene, a drag scene — vibrant bisexual community, a lesbian scene. Young people are driving the community forward through social media."

Go deeper: Homosexuality still criminalized in much of the world

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