LGBT rights in Kenya

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LGBT rights in Kenya
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Male illegal,
female legal[1]
5 to 14 years imprisonment
Gender identity/expression -
thumb|House rules in a guest house in Malindi

Sections 162 to 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code criminalize homosexual behaviour and attempted homosexual behaviour between men, which is referred to as "carnal knowledge against the order of nature". The penalty is 5 to 14 years' imprisonment. The age of consent is 16. Lesbian relations are not prohibited in the law.[2]

Homosexuality remains criminalized in Kenya, and even though there are few prosecutions in the country on the sections of the penal code (162 - 165), that criminalize it; LGBTI people are routinely harassed by the police, held in remand houses for long without charges being preferred against them, and presented in court, on trumped-up charges. Closely related to this, is a cartel of corrupt police officials who routinely extort and blackmail LGBTI people with the threat of arrest and imprisonment if they do not give them bribes.

According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, a strong 96% of Kenya residents said that homosexuality should be rejected by society, making it one of the highest rejection of homosexuality in the 44 countries surveyed.[3]


In August 2006, a bill known as "Njoki Ndungu bill" was published into law, with the aim was to consolidate all the sexual offenses into one body. The bill was published into law in August, but did not change very much the previous sections of the penal code. As such it remains a criminal offense that is punishable by 14 years and five years in the case of attempt.

Organizations such as Gaykenya are working to improve access to basic rights and freedoms of gay and lesbian people by calling upon the LGBTI people to register as voters and participate in the civic life. This way they hope to work with politicians and political parties in changing the offensive sections of the penal code.

Human rights

GALCK brings together 5 organizations that work for emancipation and realization of human rights for the LGBTI people in Kenya. These Groups, include, ISHTAR MSM, which is principally involved in reduction of HIV/AIDS infections among gay people in Kenya. Minority Women in Action (MWA) works on rights realization for Lesbians and bisexual women. The other two are Gaykenya and Tomik whose work focus on rights advocacy and creating a favorable legal environment for the LGBTI Kenyans. Transgender Education and Advocacy (T.E.A.) is the last group to be formed in 2008 that focuses on the human rights and social well being of transgender and intersex identifying individuals.

Since the centre was first opened, GALCK has been able to make tremendous progress, in its work through building coalitions with mainstream organizations, like Kenya Human Rights Commission, and HIV/AIDS bodies notably Liverpool VCT, Care and Treatment and National Aids Control Council. Indeed thanks to this relationship, GALCK has for the first time been formally involved in the on-going process of drafting a new HIV/AIDS Strategic plan for this country. Further to that, GALCK is also involved in the review of the National Voluntary Care and HIV Testing Form, so that information collected and counselling given during the VCTs, is reflective of the needs of the LGBTI community in Kenya.

This would never have been possible without the Community Centre which also functions as offices for the 5 organizations. Indeed, just a week before World Aids Day, on 1 December 2008, Galck was able to mobilize 230 LGBTI persons to attend VCT services held at the community Centre itself. This was the first time ever in this country that VCT services specifically targeted LGBTI persons. During this process, important lessons were learnt on the existing VCT policy and implementation gaps, and they are now working with NACC in collaboration with Liverpool VCT, to address this gaps. One notable gap is indicators on HIV prevalence among this community which previously had been estimated at 9.3% but through this exercise was found to be 23%.

Same-sex marriage

In October 2009 a Kenyan gay couple, Charles Ngengi and Daniel Chege married in London, United Kingdom. The marriage received a widespread attention in Kenya, with majority of Kenyans strongly condemning the marriage. Daniel Chege's relatives were also harassed by other villagers in Gathiru, Murang’a District [4]

Although illegal in Kenya, in February 2010 two Kenyan men attempted to hold a gay wedding in a hotel in Mtwapa. The wedding failed as the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) jointly organised the "Operation Gays Out" to prevent the marriage. The couple were attacked by violent youth during the operation, but were rescued by the police. Sheikh Hussein Ali, Kikambala region coordinator of CIPK said they are "ready to shed their blood to protect the dignity of Mtwapa town" [5].

See also


  1. Ottosson, Daniel (May 2008). State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults Pages 20–21. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Retrieved on 2009-05-05.
  2. "Kenya" Behind the Mask, a website on gay and lesbian affairs in Africa. Accessed March 9, 2006.
  4. Daily Nation, October 22, 2009: A family scarred by homophobia
  5. Daily Nation, February 12, 2010: Police save men from anti-gay crowd

External links


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