A three-judge bench of the Kenyan High Court will rule today on whether to legalise homosexuality in the country. The
A three-judge bench of the Kenyan High Court will rule today on whether to legalise homosexuality in the country.
The case is a landmark one for the African continent, which has some of the strictest laws against homosexuality in the world—many of which were imposed more than a century ago by colonial European powers. Backed by powerful Christian groups, the Kenyan government wants the ban to remain, while a majority of the country’s population opposes same-sex relations.
Regardless, sexual minority advocates have reason to be optimistic. In March of 2018, the Court of Appeals outlawed forced anal examinations of people suspected of being homosexual. Likewise, progressive rulings in other developing countries, like India, where discrimination based on sexuality was deemed a violation of human rights, could push the judges towards legalisation. Momentum from other developing countries could help break the perception that Western influence dominates this issue.
The ruling today will likely influence decisions in related cases throughout the continent, like in Botswana, which will hear a similar case later this year. Already a major power in East Africa, Nairobi’s soft power will have a huge hand in setting a regional precedent on the issue. A ruling for legalisation could also inspire pro-rights groups throughout the continent.
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