Should Same-Sex Marriage Be Legalised In Kenya?

OPINION – Homosexuality is still considered a taboo and unacceptable to the cultural values and morality of Kenyans. Despite various organizations working to protect and improve LGBT rights, same-sex marriage is still not permitted in Kenya. Article 45(2) of the new Kenyan Constitution states that every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties.

Leaders within the three dominant religions in Kenya, which consist of the Catholic, Anglican, and Islam, have publicly condemned homosexuality and transgenderism as signs of decadence, disease, and immorality of the highest order. Most Christian leaders view same-sex marriage as a bigger threat to the Christianity than terrorism.

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the LGBT community is often discriminated, stigmatized and subjected to violence because of their sexual orientation.

But while Kenya still opposes same-sex marriage, South Africa has already set an example in Africa. Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since the Civil Union Act, which came into force in 2006, making South Africa the first country in Africa to legalize same- sex marriage.

The decision for South Africa to legalize same sex marriage was necessitated by the need to recognize the inherent universal human dignity for every human being around the globe and the legal requirement to have this dignity safeguarded and respected. They were careful and thoughtful enough to look beyond the religious, cultural, societal, political and economic inclinations that have undermined the ultimate goal of humankind to achieve equity, equality and ultimate happiness for all.

Discriminating against LGBT persons in Kenya is unconstitutional and void because of the constitution’s broad protection of civil and human rights.

Article 28 of the Kenyan Constitution states that every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.” This article offers “fresh energy to the rights of the LGBTI community.

Article 10(2)(b) of the Kenyan Constitution states that, The national values and principles of governance include, human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized.

Article 19 of the Kenyan constitution states that the purpose of recognizing and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and to promote social justice and the realization of the potential of all human beings. It further states that the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights belong to each individual and are not granted by the State.

Article 31 of the Kenyan Constitution also states that, every person has the right to privacy.

Last but not least article 27 of the Kenyan constitution states that, (1) every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law. (2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms. (3) Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. (4)  The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth. (5)  A person shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against another person on any of the grounds specified or contemplated in clause (4).

Love is a human right and is for everyone. As long as you are happy it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with.  We are all Human beings and as long as we live, each one of us deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

Denying equal rights to another group of human beings based on cultural and religious beliefs it not right and is called bigotry. No one is free when others are oppressed.  Kenya must embrace diversity and legalize same sex marriage.

( This article has also been published on standard digital media in Kenya)

Michael Okun Oliech is a communication officer at dance4life Kenya, a youth serving Non-Governmental Organization that does sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy and behavior change communication. He has a BA in Development Studies, undergone training on media advocacy, and budget advocacy by Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa- Kenya and Choice for Youth and Sexuality of the Netherlands. He is also a well-known blogger on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Issues, a human rights activist, LGBT rights defender and youth advocate at Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa. His twitter handle is @mikeokunson.

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