2023 started off on an extremely sad note as the LGBTIQ+ community in Kenya mourned the death of fashionista Edwin Chiloba. Within the same month, an unsigned report by Uganda’s National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organisations emerged documenting investigations into 26 LGBTIQ organisations within Uganda. It detailed completed investigations of four: Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Robust Initiative for Promoting Human Rights, Tranz Network Uganda and Ubuntu Law and Justice Centre. It concluded that the four continued operations without registration thus violating  article 31 (1) of the NGO Act, 2016. Weeks later and in sharp contrast to Uganda, the Supreme Court of Kenya affirmed the right of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to register with the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ in its title in accordance with article 36 of the Constitution of Kenya that guarantees the right to freedom of association.

While the win was celebrated across Africa and worldwide, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 was passed by its parliament in sharp contrast to Kenya’s affirmation of the right to associate, by including a clause on ‘Promotion of homosexuality’. Clause 11 targets CBOs, NGOs and human rights defenders and champions , as well as allies and donors/ funders and any affiliation with sexual and gender minorities and communities. It goes further to restrict the liberal use of the media and the internet in any way that seems sympathetic or affirming to the existence of LGBTI+ persons and communities.

Interestingly, Ghana’s similar law ‘Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Act, 2021’ calls for disbandment of LGBTTIQQAAP+ groups, societies, associations, clubs and organisations in existence before its coming into force, and prohibits further formations henceforth in clause 11. A Member of the Kenyan Parliament Hon. Kaluma and team moved and applied for the Supreme Court to review its own decision as provided for in section 21 A of the Supreme Court Act. Just recently, the said Member of Parliament introduced a ‘Family Protection Bill’ in Parliament in what can be said as a follow-up to the motion for Review. In its objects, Kenya’s Bill seeks to preserve and protect cultural and family values of the Kenyan people. Ghana’s law  accuses LGBTTIQQAAP+ activities of threatening the concept of family and the associated value systems while Uganda’s law has been justified in its Memorandum as providing “comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the traditional family”.

It is quite shocking that the three laws seem to borrow from the same script as they all seek to criminalise diverse gender identity and sexual orientation. Why this is happening across Africa right now is a question that may not be answered in this article; but it is no surprise that Uganda recently hosted the African Family Policy Conference, the very first of its kind between March 30 and April 1.

The move in Kenya is in sharp contrast to the Supreme Court judgement as the Bill seeks to dismantle and do away with LGBTIQ organisations in clause 35. In fact, the Bill outrightly seeks to limit the right to privacy; freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion; freedom of expression; freedom of the media; the right to access to information; and the right to assemble, demonstrate, picket and petition.




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