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In legal battle over gay sex, Kenyan court to consider Indian ruling

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Parties involved in a court case seeking to decriminalise gay sex in Kenya will be allowed to make submissions based on a recent decision by India’s top court to overturn a ban on gay sex, a Kenyan court said on Thursday.

India’s top court on Sept. 6 scrapped a colonial-era law that punished gay sex with up to 10 years in jail, raising hopes among activists worldwide, including in Africa, for similar reforms elsewhere.

The constitutional division of Kenya‘s High Court will hear submissions from both parties on Oct. 25 on the relevance of India’s decision toKenya, given that both countries have shared the law – dating back to the days of British colonial rule – that criminalises “sexual acts against the order of nature”.

Homosexuality is taboo across much of Africa and gay people face discrimination or persecution. In Kenya it can lead to a 14-year jail sentence, but in recent years campaigners for lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) rights have become increasingly vocal.

Opponents of decriminalising gay sex in Kenya say India’s decision was flawed and they will ask the Kenyan court to disregard it.

Kenyan courts are bound only by decisions of higher courts in Kenya, but decisions of foreign courts can be persuasive. They don’t have to be adopted,” said Charles Kanjama, a lawyer representing parties against decriminalisation.

DISCRIMINATION

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Supporters of decriminalisation say the current ban is being used daily to discriminate against LGBT people, making it harder for them to get a job or promotion, rent housing or access health and education services.

Due to a lack of legal protection, campaigners say sexual minorities are routinely abused, assaulted by mobs, raped by police or vigilantes, or enslaved by criminals.

Last week’s decision by a Kenyan court temporarily lifting a ban on an acclaimed film called ‘Rafiki’ which had been censored by the government for portraying a lesbian relationship, raised hopes in the LGBT community that the court may be softening its view on same-sex relationships.

Although the movie screened to a sold-out crowd on Sunday, it drew sharp criticism from the Kenyan censor who said it still considered ‘Rafiki’ morally subversive.

However, parties against decriminalisation in the current case say that ‘Rafiki’ is unlikely to change opinion of the court on homosexuality.

“The views of that proportion of the population that watch it are unlikely to change, because those may be part of the three or four percent who already have very ambivalent views about this issue,” Kanjama said.

Same-sex relationships are a crime in more than 70 countries around the world, almost half of them in Africa. South Africa is the only African nation to have legalised gay marriage.

The law against gay sex in Kenya was introduced during British rule more than 120 years ago. In 2010 Kenya adopted a new constitution that provides for equality, human dignity and freedom from discrimination.

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Better living conditions for incarcerated children and women

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A day care center officially unveiled by Winnie Guchu, the CAS Ministry of interior and coordination. [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

The prisons’ service, in partnership with Faraja Foundation, has rolled out a rehabilitation programme for inmates.
The programme targets enhancing structures at the correctional facilities and making them friendlier to prison staff and inmates.
Jane Kuria, the CEO of Faraja Foundation, says the non-governmental organisation aims for successful reintegration of inmates to the community upon release from prison.
“Faraja Foundation wants to be remembered for supporting former convicts to reintegrate back to the community,” Kuria noted.
She added that many ex-convicts had to start lives afresh after jail terms, hence the need to help them fill the gap in reintegrating with society.
Donating beds and other items was a way of helping inmates survive and get rehabilitated in preparation for their return to society, she added.
The foundation aims to distribute 2,160 beds to the 43 women prisons that hold about 2,615 inmates and 210 children accompanying them.

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Daris Kangi the Officer in charge Embu women’s prison (L) chats with Winnie Guchu, the CAS Ministry of interior and coordination at the newly unveiled daycare at the Prison. Through a partnership with Faraja Foundation, the Prisons service will also distribute 2160 beds to all Women Prisons across the country. May 13, 2021. [Muriithi Mugo,Standard]

Speaking during the unveiling of day-care built by Faraja at Embu Women’s prison, Kuria said children jailed with their mothers did not deserve to undergo hardship.

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David Bett, chair of Faraja Foundation, challenged stakeholders to consider a review of the open-door policy that will also see prison staff benefit more.
Winnie Guchu, the Ministry of Interior and Coordination CAS, said the government had targeted to have day-care centres in all women’s prisons.
“Women convicted with children lacked caretakers of their children at home and this forced them to carry the babies along for the duration of their sentences,” said Ms Guchu.
She said the children were innocent and that they had the right to a conducive environment for growth through the day-care centres.
“These children should have places for entertainment, playing as well as good sleeping areas,” said Guchu.
She unveiled the day-care center and received 160 of 2,160 beds from the Faraja Foundation, destined for distribution in all the 43 women’s prisons countrywide.
Also present was Commissioner of Prisons Wycliffe Ogallo. 

 

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What you need to know about the Juja by-election

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The late Juja MP Francis Waititu aka Wakapee.

The Juja parliamentary seat became vacant after MP Francis Waititu succumbed to brain cancer on February 22, 2021 at MP Shah Hospital.
Waititu was elected on a Jubilee ticket during the 2017 General Election. He garnered 66,190 votes.
According to IEBC, Juja constituency has 114,761 registered voters.
The 2017 General Election had an 80 per cent voter turn-out which saw 91,801 Kenyans casting their votes in the region.  
The by-election
On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, voters in the Juja constituency will head to the polls to elect their next member of parliament.
A total of eleven candidates will square it out in the mini poll.

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Jubilee Party By-election Juja MP Nominee Susan Njeri Waititu during certificate issuance at the Party’s Headquarters in Nairobi on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Main contenders

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1. Waititu Susan Njeri – Jubilee Party
2. Ndung’u George Koimburi – Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP)
Others:
3. Mwangi Kariuki Chege – Independent
4. Kagera Eunice Wanjiru – The New Democrats (TND)
5. Kariuki Joseph Gichui –  Independent
6. Kariuki Rashid Iregi –  Independent
7. Marungo James Kariuki – Independent
8. Mburu John Njoroge – People’s Party of Kenya (PPK)
9. Ndung’u Antony Kirori – Maendeleo Chap Chap Party (MCCP)
10. Ndung’u Kennedy Gachuma – National Liberal Party (NLP)
11. Zulu Julius Thiong’o – Independent

 

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19-year-old boy charged with defiling girl three years younger

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[Courtesy]

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A 19-year-old teenager is in trouble with authorities for allegedly defiling a 16-year-old girl.
Tyson Ongaki has been charged before a Kisumu Chief Magistrate’s court and accused of intentionally defiling the minor on various dates. The crime was allegedly committed in Bomet.
The teenager who appeared before Chief Magistrate Peter Gesora however denied the offence and has been released on a Sh100,000 bond.
The court heard that after committing the offense on diverse dates between March 26, 2021 and May 14, 2021, the teenager moved to Kisumu.
He has also been charged with committing an indecent act with a minor.
An investigating officer handling the matter told the court that the suspect was arrested in Kisumu.
The magistrate directed that the matter be heard on June 15, 2021.

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