Even In Kenya, Gay Rights are Human Rights


According to the Kenyan President, his excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, gay rights and the entire debate surrounding the matter is a ‘non-issue’. At least, that is the famous rejoinder he issued to President Obama’s assertions that, and I quote,”I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law. And that they are deserving of equal protection under the law and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation,”

Kenya may be grappling with many other issues pertinent to the economy and to the well-being of its citizens but under no circumstances is a gay rights issue a non issue.

I recently engaged a number of friends and colleagues from different faculties and specializations on the issue over Facebook and one thing stood paramount, religion and culture were the greatest impediments to the understanding of the gay rights issue. Not really because the two exist, but rather, because those ‘deeply’ embedding their beliefs on the already established trends in religion and culture refuse to see any other way round the matter.

On a recent trip to Senegal, Obama reiterated, “When it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there, But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort.” These assertions pretty much summarizes my opinions on the matter.

Kenya is not a theocratic state. Therefore, religious beliefs or the lack thereof cannot be the basis upon which all individual and national issues are pegged. And suppose we decide to take the moral authority over the society’s sexual orientations, then what would be the ideal treatment for the Gay and Lesbian community that grows in courage and numbers day by day? Prosecute and persecute them? Burn them alive on the stake? Life sentence behind bars? Death by the hangman’s noose or lethal injection or what?

It is okay to hold strong religious beliefs over human actions and interactions, but should we expect the same of the state that has the obligation to protect the interests(including rights and freedoms) of all its citizens without fear of favor?

I will probably be stoned for this but just to quote my status update on Facebook:

If we think the Bible is the solution to humanity’s problems, then Karl Marx could not have been any more explicit in his insinuations. More and more nations continue to see this. Does branding gays take the gayism away? In fact, the population has been on the rise. This is a people you will have to learn to accept and live with. Either way, they will thrive. They already have in the US. So what, burn them on the stake or throw them to jail?

These are rational beings most of whom choose to be gay. I know of several. Should I spit where they walk just because our sexual orientations differ? Hiding behind religion is not a solution to this sensitive issue. Let them be people, either way, if you don’t today, then others will tomorrow. Whether or not you use documentation, these people are here to stay. And they will not always be explained by the Internet or the Bible!

It is immoral to claim moral authority only when it comes to one issue. Do you castigate your cohabiting friends every morning you see them? Do you severe ties with them? Beyond that gay or lesbian is a judge, a teacher, a doctor, etc. Like Jesus said, only cast the first stone if indeed you are without blame.”

Human Rights issues cannot be undermined as a non-issue.  The state must take its stand on the matter and be counted either for or against. Either way, gay-ism and the entire gay rights issue is here to stay. We just have to figure out a way to live with it.

Ooko Victor



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