In a recent development, President William Ruto of Kenya criticized a Supreme Court ruling that permitted an activist to register an LGBTQ rights organization in the country. The ruling, which was made on February 24, dismissed a further appeal by the national board overseeing non-governmental organizations, which had denied the activist’s registration request.
While the High Court and the Court of Appeal had earlier stated that the board acted improperly, the Supreme Court’s ruling has generated controversy in Kenya. The President, speaking on Thursday, reiterated that the country’s position on same-sex marriage remained unchanged, stating that “our culture and religion does not allow same-sex marriages.”
Ruto went on to note that although the government respects the Supreme Court’s 3-2 decision, it is not possible for Kenya to allow same-sex marriages. “It will happen in other countries but not in Kenya,” he added.
The Supreme Court majority, in its decision, recognized that same-sex marriages are illegal in Kenya, and the country’s penal code criminalizes intimate relations between individuals of the same sex. Despite efforts by activists to have the colonial-era law scrapped, they have not been successful.
Meanwhile, an anti-LGBTQ group in the coastal city of Mombasa has protested against the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the establishment of an NGO focused on LGBTQ rights. Kenya is largely a conservative and religious country, and Ruto encouraged religious leaders to intensify education efforts to promote what he referred to as traditional values.
The controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s ruling has brought the issue of LGBTQ rights to the forefront in Kenya, and it remains to be seen how the situation will develop going forward.