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Parliament rejects LGBTQ registration in Kenya

The Kenyan members of parliament have rejected the Supreme Court decision to direct the NGO Coordination board to register an organisation for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) community in Kenya.

As a result the legislators have called for the censure of the Supreme Court for their attempt to legislate from the bench and issue judgments on LGBTQ. The MPS want the bench fully composed to review its decision saying the judgement went against the cultural norm and risks tainting future generations.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of LGBTQ community on Friday 24th February in their quests to officially register a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Kenya. In the verdict delivered by a five-judge bench the apex court castigated the NGOs Co-Ordination Board for refusing to register four names for an LGBTQ organisation on the grounds that same-sex marriage is illegal in Kenya. 

Three judges in the bench ruled that the community members have a right to associate even though the law considers same-sex marriages illegal. Hence, the refusal to register them was discriminatory and contravened the law. “It would be unconstitutional to limit the right to associate through denial of registration of an association purely based on the sexual orientation of the applicants,” the ruling read. 

However, Justices Mohamed Ibrahim and William Ouko dissented and held a firm stance that the law was clear on the illegality of gays and lesbians. 

The ruling has elicited controversies that have refused to go away with religious leaders being on the forefront against it. The names rejected included the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, National Coalition of Gays and Lesbians in Kenya, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Association, Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council, Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Observancy and Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Organisation. The board noted in its explanation that the words, “gay and lesbians” in the proposed names were objectionable.

The verdict was a culmination of a protracted case dating back to 2019 where an LGBTQ activist petitioned the High Court to challenge the NGO Board’s decision to turn down his application to register his organisation.  The lower court agreed with the activist and found that the NGO Board’s refusal violated his right.

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