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Sun. May 19th, 2024

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Friday to voice their opposition to the LGBTQ community, in a move opposed by rights groups as “dangerous”.

The rally followed a Supreme Court decision last month that allowed a gay rights lobby to register as a non-governmental organization — a ruling that has incensed conservatives and stoked anti-gay discourse.

Backed by religious groups, the demonstrators marched to the Supreme Court in Nairobi after Friday prayers at a nearby mosque, demanding the resignation of three judges involved in the case.

Some held placards reading “LGBTQ is not African”, “LGBTQ Agenda must fail” and “A walk for upholding family values”.

Homosexuality is highly stigmatized in Kenya and gay sex remains a crime under colonial-era laws with penalties including prison terms of up to 14 years.

While convictions under the laws are rare, gay activists say the legislation infringes on their privacy and dignity, foments discrimination and blocks access to healthcare and justice.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), an independent rights group, said Friday’s “dangerous” protest was the culmination of a “hateful campaign” that started in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa last month.

“Now, this hate campaign is coming to the capital, and we know this will affect LGBTQ persons’ lives because previous street actions placed this group in harm’s way,” KHRC said in a statement.

“We take this opportunity to unequivocally condemn all the previous and ongoing nefarious activities that continue to expose this community’s rights to life, security, and dignity.”

Protest organizers said they will also march to parliament to show support for a draft bill calling for the criminalization of gay relations with tough penalties, including a jail term of up to 50 years.

The bill by an opposition legislator is yet to be debated on the floor of the house but mirrors many aspects of the draconian anti-gay legislation passed in Uganda earlier this year.

The Uganda law — considered one of the harshest of its kind in the world — contains provisions making “aggravated homosexuality” a potentially capital offence and penalties for consensual same-sex relations of up to life in prison.

Homosexuality is illegal in many East African countries, which have a history of repression and stigmas against gays, often encouraged by conservative Muslims and Christians.

On Wednesday, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius bucked that trend and repealed a British colonial-era law against gay sex.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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