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Kenya’s High Court has upheld the African country’s laws which criminalize homosexual behavior.
LGBTQ activists had argued the laws are discriminatory, lead to increased harassment of the LGBTQ community, and serve to discourage people from seeking HIV testing or treatment.
The plaintiffs involved in the case also said the laws violate the Kenyan Constitution which reads the “state shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground,” including sex.
The three-judge panel, however, ruled the British colonial-era laws are not discriminatory and told the packed courtroom of activists in Nairobi the petitioners had failed to provide “credible evidence” that the laws infringed their rights, reports Quartz.com.
The three laws in question, Sections 162 (a) and (c), 163 and 165 of the nation’s penal code, make it a felony to have “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” or to commit “gross indecency.” The punishment for these crimes range from five to twenty-one years in prison.
The “carnal knowledge” offense is generally used to relate to oral and anal intercourse. While the law could apply to people of any gender, it’s primarily used to persecute gay men.
The “gross indecency” section pertains specifically to sexual acts between men.
Of the more than 70 countries that outlaw homosexuality, nearly half are located in Africa.
A report in 2014 found the government of Kenya prosecuted 595 cases of homosexualitybetween 2010 and 2014.
A report from the Kenyan government shows 534 people were arrested for same-sex relationships between 2013 and 2017.
Today’s ruling comes as other countries, like Indiaand Trinidad and Tobago, have recently decriminalized homosexuality.