Kenya should continue to protect free speech

In Summary

• In February, the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling of lower courts that gay people also enjoy the right to freedom of association.

• MPs are now debating a law that will criminalise discussion or 'propagation' of gay rights

MPs are discussing a private member's bill that seeks to criminalise 'propagating' gay rights. This is an affront to every Kenyan's constitutional right to free speech.

There has been a backlash against the LGBTQ community since the Supreme Court ruled three weeks ago that they enjoyed freedom of association and could therefore form an NGO.

Homosexuality remains a criminal offence under the Penal Code and the Supreme Court did not change this or recommend that same-sex marriage be allowed. The Supreme Court merely confirmed the ruling of lower courts that all Kenyans enjoy the right to freedom of association, including gay people.

Nevertheless politicians reacted vociferously to the Supreme Court ruling saying it threatened Kenya's cultural values. In Uganda, it is even worse – there they want to execute homosexuals even though they have existed since pre-colonial times, which is why every Ugandan language has words denoting gay people.

And, at the end of the day, shouldn't Kenyans also be proud of their freedom of speech and association? The MPs are threatening to sacrifice that freedom of speech because they are frightened to discuss something that continues to be a criminal offence.

Quote of the day: "The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity."

Erich Fromm
The German psychologist died on March 18, 1980

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