Kenya–Human Rights Council–LGBTI Rights–July 2019

The Advocates for Human Rights, together with The Eagles for Life and Sign Ishara submitted a stakeholder report on gender and sexual-identity-based violence in Kenya for the 35th Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

LGBTI individuals in Kenya face discrimination, violence, persecution, and lack of protection from human rights violations. Many LGBTI individuals have given detailed accounts of physical and verbal abuse from their family, community, and vigilante groups due to their sexual orientation. The Kenyan penal code criminalizes same-sex conduct and “unnatural carnal knowledge,” which can be interpreted and used for a conviction at the discretion of law enforcement. LGBTI individuals are thus unprotected from local police who often solicit bribes or charge LGBTI individuals unlawfully. LGBTI individuals have also been denied access to education, employment, health services, and public spaces, including restaurants, hotels, and churches. Furthermore, LGBTI individuals are frequently subjected to forced medical examinations designed to prove their sexuality.

During Kenya’s 2nd Cycle UPR in 2015, Kenya rejected five of the six recommendations concerning the protection of human rights of LGBTI individuals. This action contradicts Kenya’s obligations to the African Charter on Human Rights which calls for the protection of LGBTI individuals, and international law, which is automatically incorporated into Kenya’s domestic law via a dualist state structure. Kenya has responded to international pressure by drafting legislation and instigating programs that address gender diversity in the workplace and HIV/AIDS, but has refrained from directly acting on LGBTI human rights violations.

This stakeholder submission suggests several recommendations for Kenya, including:

  • Decriminalize consensual same-sex conduct by repealing sections 162-165 from the  Penal Code
  • Adopt appropriate policies and measures to tackle social prejudices, stigmatization, harassment, discrimination, and violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation.
  • Implement the calls to action of Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in order to protect individuals from violence and abuse based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Provide training for government officials around LGBTI issues, specifically health care providers, education professionals, and law enforcement officials to ensure trust within the LGBTI community
  • Assist LGBTI people who are more vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, and violence because of their economic situation, class, sex, or ethnicity
  • Increase access to health care services by taking active measures and designing policies to reach LGBTI individuals
  • Remove the practice of expelling LGBTI students from schools because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity