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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

In Kenya, arrests for gay sex

By Paul Canning

Update: Gay Kenya have been unable to confirm details of this case and have offered a number of suggestions as to the reasons for the media reports.

Update: Lawyer Monica Mbaru has provided more detail to Beyond The Mask. Suggests it could be test case for challenging sodomy laws.
As the LGBTI community in Kenya seeks to address equality and non-discrimination based on the new constitution, a case like John’s gives that opportunity to address decriminalization of same-sex behavior. As it stands today the sodomy law potentially creates a gap where blackmailers and extortionists use the law to their advantage.

John’s case would form a good test case to challenge these laws and the potential conflicts it creates in addressing personal freedoms and rights as well as other public health concerns.

Further, an arrest based on one’s perceived or real sexual orientation sets in motion other human rights violations most specifically the invasion of privacy.

It seems clear in this case that John has suffered clear violations of his rights including being in custody for six days. He is being charged with a crime that is difficult to prove without having to violate individual freedoms for instance in order to “catch one in the act” it would necessitate an invasion of privacy.
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The Gay Kenya website is reporting that Kenyan media says that two men were arrested last night and will face sodomy charges in a Nairobi court tomorrow.

Media reports say they were caught having sex in a lodging house in the Nairobi CBD.
"The two men are alleged to have been caught in the act by the hotel attendants who broke into their room and called the police," Gay Kenya says.
In May The Kenya Human Rights Commission accused the police of sexually assaulting gay men while in their custody.

Mr Tom Kagwe, the Commission’s senior programme officer said most state officials, especially the police, harass gay men in remand by keeping them beyond the constitutional time limits.

The report indicated that the police, especially in Coast Province, “plant offenses” such as being drunk and disorderly or prostitution on gay people.

“Some police officers even demand sexual favours in exchange for release from custody,” Mr Kagwe said.
They also pointed the finger at religious leaders and politicians for instigating violence against them by fueling homophobia in a report: “The Outlawed amongst Us — a study of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Community in Kenya”. 
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