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Rev Peter Karanja, of the National Council of Churches of Kenya
KENYAN CLERGY, OPPOSE CALL BY NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TO LEGALISE HOMOSEXUALITY

in KENYA, 08/05/2012

Members of the clergy and some human rights activists in Kenya have raised their objections to recommendations last week that homosexuality be de-criminalised in the East African country.

The recommendations are proposed in a report on safeguarding sexual and reproductive health rights. The report, launched on Thursday, is as a result of a public inquiry that had been set up by the commission to examine the extent and nature of violations of the two rights.

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR) on Thursday, May 3, 2012, called for the Kenya government to decriminalise homosexuality and prostitution in that country.

In a report unveiled by the human rights watchdog, the commission proposed legalization of the vices after the gay and lesbian community in the country, together with those practising commercial sex works, had complained that they were being discriminated against.

According to Ms Winfred Lichuma, a KNHRC commissioner who chaired the inquiry panel, the country needed to address the issue of ‘sexual minorities’ as their numbers were fast increasing.

However, members of the clergy and a section of rights groups were reported in Kenya’s Weekend Star newspaper as having objected to the KNHRC’s recommendations to have same-sex relationships and prostitution legalised.

According to the newspaper report, the National Council of Churches of Kenya secretary general Peter Karanja, the Nyanza Province Council of Church Leaders chairman Bishop Washington Ngede and Forum for Awareness and Community Empowerment director Haggai Kadiri criticised the recommendations, saying they are against human rights.

The Weekend Star reported Karanja saying that the NCCK rejects the thinking in the strongest terms possible adding that “the act is culturally obnoxious and goes both against the spirit of the national constitution and the teachings of all the faith communities in Kenya.”

The newspaper reported that Bishop Ngede had said the acts are abomination before God adding that they should not be embraced in the country. “Kenya is a God-fearing state and to make such disgusting recommendations is a great abomination before God,” he said. Ngede petitioned the government not to allow such “acts of indecency to take place in the country”.

According to the newspaper’s report, Kadiri said Kenya has 42 tribes with different cultures and that adopting same-sex relations and prostitution is alien. He said the country should not bow to demands by “some foreign countries” to legalise such acts. “Homosexuality, lesbianism and prostitution will not make any positive development in the country but will only infringe on the rights of Kenyans,” Kadiri said.

According to the KNHRC report launched on Thursday, the gay and lesbian community in the country, together with those practicing commercial sex, had complained they were being discriminated against.

They blamed this on the denial of their existence by the society as well as laws that criminalised their activities. The report states that the government should decriminalise same-sex relationships. It further states that there is need to regulate voluntary sex work for men and women in order to make the practice safe for prostitutes and their clients. Prostitution and homosexuality are illegal under Kenyan law.

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