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Kenya’s High Court will decide whether to follow India’s gay sex verdict

Kenya’s High Court will decide whether to follow India’s gay sex verdict

Rainbow Pride at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya

Kenya’s High Court has allowed arguments whether India’s decision to scrapped its gay sex ban is relevant to Kenya.

The court said it will allow parties to make submissions on the issue based on the Supreme Court of India’s decision to scrap Section 377 of the Penal Code. The colonial era law criminalized all ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’.

On October 25, Kenya’s High Court will hear submissions about whether the recent verdict in India has any relevance to Kenya, according to a Reuters report.

Until India’s recent ruling, the two countries shared the same laws banning gay sex thanks to British colonial-era legacy.

Those campaigning to decriminalize homosexuality said the law is used in Kenya to persecute LGBTI people. Those convicted of homosexual sex face a 14 year jail sentence in Kenya.

But campaigners also said that the anti-discrimination measures makes LGBTI people vulnerable to mob violence, abuse, rape or enslavement. They also tend to have poorer education and employment outcomes because of rampant discrimination.

Small victories

LGBTI rights have gained momentum in Kenya over the past few years.

Most recently, a court decided to temporarily lift a ban on a film about a lesbian couple.

Rafiki was the first Kenyan film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. But authorities banned it in Kenya because of its ‘lesbian content’.

It had to screen in Kenya for at least seven days to be eligible for a Best Foreign Language film Oscars nomination.

The filmmaker took the matter to the courts with a judge deciding to temporarily lift the ban. Filmmakers had to add extra screenings of Rafiki to meet demand after every session sold out.