Kenya

At a glance

  • Same-sex relations: illegal
  • Legal gender recognition: possible
  • Registration of LGBTIQ organizations: possible
  • Actions related to SOGI at UN: opposed IE SOGI in 2016

 

Overview

Notable progress has been made in the recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people in Kenya in the last decade, largely through court victories. LGBTIQ organizations have been allowed to officially register and it has become possible for transgender Kenyans to receive legal gender recognition. Forced anal examinations have been ruled unconstitutional. In 2019, Kenya became the first country in Africa to incorporate an intersex category into the national census. However, also in 2019, Kenya’s High Court upheld a colonial law criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults, claiming that the law is not discriminatory and would, if abolished, open the door to same-sex marriage which is unconstitutional in Kenya.

LGBTIQ people are largely ostracized in Kenya and are often seen as mentally ill, immoral, or un-African. Hate speech from politicians and religious leaders is prevalent, and legitimizes the violence and discrimination that LGBTIQ people face from private citizens. Hate crimes against LGBTIQ people, including mob violence, are common, and due to the continuing criminalization can be perpetrated with impunity, as LGBTIQ people do not seek protection for fear of further victimization, outing, or abuse.