Members of the Kenyan parliament have spurned a proposal to enact a harsh new anti-homosexuality law.
The bill, proposed by the tiny Republican Liberty Party, which has no elected members in parliament, would have imposed new punishments for same-sex relations — death by stoning in the case of non-Kenyans, life in prison for Kenyans.
Eric Gitari, director of Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, stated on Facebook that the parliament’s Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs has rejected the bill. According to one report, the reasons for the rejection were that the proposal was unconstitutional, improperly introduced to parliament and in violation of Kenya’s international obligations.
Over the weekend, Gitari appeared in a discussion of the bill on KTV with Irungu Kangata, who heads the parliament’s anti-gay caucus, and Edward Nyakeriga of the Republican Liberty Party. Although he is anti-gay, Kangata spoke against the proposal, particularly its advocacy of death by stoning, because he considers homosexuality to be a mental illness — a position that the TV show’s host challenged.
Gitari said the bill is unconstitutional and an embarrassment to the country.
An existing Kenyan law, rarely enforced, provides for up to 14 years in prison for same-sex intimacy.
A copy of the proposed bill (PDF) shows that the proposal included:
- Life imprisonment for anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” someone to engage in homosexual activity.
- Punishment by public stoning for repeat offenders and for HIV-positive people who are convicted of homosexual acts.
- A prohibition on cosmetic surgery to enhance breasts, buttocks or sex organs.
- A definition of the “offence of homosexuality” as including touching “with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
- Life imprisonment for anyone who “purports to contract a marriage with a person of the same sex.”
- Life imprisonment for anyone who “attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices” and for anyone who is in charge of an organization that does so.
- Life imprisonment for anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities.”
- Life imprisonment for anyone who is aware of a violation of laws against homosexuality and fails to report it within 24 hours.
- The proposed law also sought to cover the actions of Kenyan citizens and permanent residents when they are outside the country, and proposes that they be extradited back to Kenya for prosecution.
The Republican Liberty Party submitted the proposal to the National Assembly on July 9. The speaker of the National Assembly, J.B. Muturi, sent the proposal to the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on Aug. 7, noting he was doing so in compliance with Standing Order 225 (2) b, which requires him to report to the House about any petition that is submitted.
Muturi instructed the committee to consider the petition and report back to the petitioners and to the House in accordance with Standing Order 227 (2), which requires a report within 60 days.