Kenyan Lawmakers Seeks To Enforce Dormant Anti-Gay Laws

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

From Voice of America

Kenya could become the next battleground for gay rights as lawmakers plan to introduce a motion in parliament to compel authorities to more strongly enforce the country’s anti-homosexual laws.  Gay rights activists say the pressure has already increased since neighboring Uganda passed a strict anti-gay law last month.

First-term member of parliament Irungu Kang’ata is leading a newly-formed caucus set to combat homosexuality in Kenya.

In an opening move, the lawmaker is requesting the ruling party to explain what measures the government is taking to uphold the current laws.

“The whole idea is, Kenya we do have anti-gay laws, they are there in our books, in our statutes.  The issue is about enforcement,” he said.

The existing laws in Kenya make consensual homosexual acts punishable by up to 14 years in prison.  No one yet has been convicted in the country, but activists say there are at least eight pending court cases.

The Kenyan caucus was formed during the debate about the anti-gay bill in Uganda that President Yoweri Museveni signed into law in February in defiance of Western pressure.  Now, being homosexual in Uganda can land you a life sentence.

Kang’ata said he would consider introducing new legislation to impose harsher penalties in Kenya if parliament determines the current laws were insufficient.  His advice to the gay community to avoid trouble?  Just keep quiet.

“Even me, you never know my sexual orientation do you?  But I do not go shouting how heterosexual or gay I am.  Keep it to yourself.  Keep it to yourself.  Once you come out, it is no longer a private issue, it is a public issue,” he said.

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