By Jeanne Ongiyo
It’s no news now that the High Court of Kenya compelled the Non-Governmental Organization Co-ordination Board to register a human rights group that represents Kenyan gays and lesbians on April 24th 2015. Making the ruling the three-judge bench argued that the Non-Governmental Organization Co-ordination Board acted against the regulations of the Kenyan constitution by failing to accord just and fair treatment to the gay and lesbian community living in Kenya seeking registration of an association of their choice. In total justification the judges also added that the rule of law was categorical in protecting the rights of the minority groups in the country and in this case, this was in reference to the gay and lesbian community.
Judicial and constitutional matters aside, let us tackle this story from a simpler point of view. By ‘us’ I would wish to state that I am referring to all those who are of a similar opinion to the one I had and not to generalize and absorb everyone else’s point of view. Kenya, just like any other African country is perceived to be conservative in matters pertaining to sex. It is more often than not a taboo to initiate any random form of sex-talk judging from the great sense of discomfort that comes with having to watch sex-related advertisements broadcast on television as a family. If the simple issue of sex is an issue to discuss in the public domain it therefore beats me how we even summed up all the courage to start discussing the subject of gays and lesbians judging from the mixed reactions and reserved opinions given by Kenyans.
I am sure that before this discussion became public this minority group, as they are referred to by our learned friends, still practiced what they preach and all was well apart from hitches here and there which any other individual is likely to experience. There have been a number of demonstrations done by this particular group in relation to claims that they were being harassed or they were being treated unfairly. Without drawing much publicity to the story, I am of the opinion that the matter would have been handled behind closed doors and upon consultations the group that is aimed at protecting the rights of the gays and lesbians that they so wished to register would be registered in due course. Kenya is a diverse country with a variety of religious deities but I am sure none of these permits same-sex marriages or same-sex sexual relations.
The media being an agenda setting medium and a mirror to the society would otherwise seem to portray the notion that all Kenyans have embraced same-sex sexual relations. What is even worse is the tussle between the Government and the Judiciary where the Judiciary, a body instituted by the Government seems to support this minority group while at the same time the country’s top administration spearheaded by the Deputy President William Ruto have detached themselves from this group. As Kenyans, we are morally torn between two ideologies, is being a gay or a lesbian right or wrong? What example are we setting for the youth and the generations yet to come? What are we telling the older generation that never had to grapple with discussing matters pertaining to this minority group? Is it a change in lifestyles that we should openly accept?
Personally, I am of the school of thought that thinks being a gay or a lesbian is a choice of one’s sexuality and therefore is not a crime. However, if one’s acts and deeds seem to interfere with the morality of the society to a great extent that portrays a negative image of the entire public, I would suggest such matters be dealt with privately. The group that I hope will eventually be registered should strive to fight for equality and end harassment of gays and lesbians but it should ,however, not cross the boundaries and advocate for unorthodox and extreme requests like the recognition of same-sex marriages. Kenya is a sovereign African state and it prides itself in standing for what is morally right. If we still shy away from talking about sex in our day to day lives, then the gay and lesbian group matter should also be an issue that we are not up in arms about. That’s just my view.
If you are of a contrary opinion, exercise your freedom of expression and voice your view, because the freedom of expression still remains sacred and protected by law.