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Press releases Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Bachelet dismayed by Kenyan High Court Decision upholding criminal sanctions for same-sex relations

24 May 2019

GENEVA (24 May 2019) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday expressed her disappointment at the decision of the High Court of Kenya to uphold a ban on consensual, same-sex relations between adults that dates back to the colonial era.

The Court had been asked to review the constitutionality of Sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code, which provide for criminal sanctions to be imposed on individuals convicted of consensual same-sex sexual conduct.

Human rights defenders have long argued that these provisions breach Kenya’s human rights obligations, and contribute to violence and discrimination against members of Kenya’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Criminalizing acts targeting certain individuals based on who they are and whom they love is inherently discriminatory. It also sends a dangerous signal to broader society and encourages hostility and even violence against LGBT individuals,” Bachelet said. “Denial of rights to education, healthcare, housing and employment can all be traced to the criminalization of same-sex relationships.”

The High Commissioner noted that LGBT activists and their allies in Kenya have fought hard to secure greater recognition of the rights of members of the LGBT community. “My message to the people of Kenya is to fight on for greater equality for all, and never give up. The United Nations stands with you and joins you in your demands for dignity, equal rights and fair treatment.”

The decision of the Kenyan High Court stands in stark contrast to a series of recent decisions by courts and lawmakers in other countries in all regions of the world annulling criminal laws that affect same sex relationships. In the past five years, Angola, Belize, India, Mozambique, Nauru, Palau, the Seychelles, and Trinidad and Tobago have all decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual conduct.


For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / [email protected] or Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected] 

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