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Win for gays and lesbians in Kenya as court rules in their favour

Government loses against gay community

Members of LGBT community take at the High Court on February 22, 2019. Photo courtesy of Nation

The Court of Appeal in Nairobi has handed a major win to the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community after dismissing an appeal filed by the NGO coordination board – seeking to block registration of an organization to defend gay rights.

The government, through the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board, had appealed a 2015 High Court ruling that allowed gay rights activists to register an organization to defend the rights of LGBT people in Kenya.

National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC)

The NGO Coordination board had refused to register the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in March 2013, saying that the name of the organization was “unacceptable,” and that it could not register it because Kenya's penal code “criminalizes gay and lesbian liaisons.”


The matter was heard by a five-judge bench of the Court of Appeal.

By a majority of tree judges. The appellate court dismissed the appeal by the NGO coordination board, agreeing with the High Court that LGBT persons, should be allowed to form an organization.

The court ruled that despite the penal code criminalizing certain acts, LGBT are persons entitled to the same rights as all other Kenyans.

The ruling is a major win for the LGBT community which has for long been discriminated against by the government through anti-gay laws.


NGLHRC and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition have another petition before the High Court of Kenya, seeking scrapping sections of the penal code that criminalizes gay acts.

The two groups told the court that sections 162 and 165 of the Kenyan penal should be declared unconstitutional on the basis that they validate stigma, discrimination and violence towards LGBT persons.

The ruling is expected later in the year on May 24th.


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