25 July 2014

Kenya: Big Win for Transgender Community in Court

Photo: The Star
Audrey Mbugua Ithibu born Andrew Mbugua.

In a historic court battle initiated in 2011 Urgent Action Fund - Africa (UAF - Africa) grantee, Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA) has been handed a landmark victory at the High court.

After being denied the right to register as an NGO, the organisation working for transgender rights sued the Kenyan NGO Coordination board for discrimination and violation of their fundamental human rights.

The group had previously been denied permission to register by the Kenyan NGO Coordination Board because three transgender women listed in the application; Audrey Mbugua, Maureen Muia and Annet Jennifer did not have names that "reflected their gender,"

On Wednesday Justice George Odunga stated that in failing to register TEA, the Kenyan NGO Coordination board had acted in a manner that is " unfair, unreasonable, unjustified and in breach of rules of natural justice,"

He further found that Ms Mbugua, Ms Muia and Ms Jennifer had provided sufficient evidence that they had legally changed their names via deed poll.

The Kenyan NGO Coordination board has been ordered to register the organisation immediately and provide compensation for legal costs incurred over the three-year long legal battle.

Audrey Mbugua welcomed the ruling, stating, "This is a watershed moment for the transgender community in Africa and a show of the capabilities of the transgender community to extricate themselves from State sponsored discrimination and marginalization.

Through the support of the UAF Africa, a team of dedicated legal practitioners and transgender people we won a very hard battle and the TEA will continue to exert more effort to see the implementation of the judgment. We pray that transgender people across Africa will be able to access more resources to build firm architectures to eradicate transphobia and discrimination, "

UAF - Africa, executive director, Ndana Bofu-Tawamba stated, "This court ruling is not only instructive and precedent setting as to how the judiciary should approach such issues, it is a breath of fresh air and an absolutely clear message to countless marginalised communities that it takes courage and conviction to pursue what is rightfully within our latitude of human rights. We celebrate with TEA on this landmark delivery of social justice and become even more strengthened to pursue human rights for all with urgent vigor,"


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