The Star (Nairobi)

16 August 2014

Kenya: An Anti-Gay Bill of Our Very Own? Really?

opinion

So the legal secretary of The Republican Liberty Party, Edward Onwong'a Nyakeriga has brought an Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the Justice and Legal Affairs committee.

The draft bill seeks to stone any foreigner who commits a homosexual act to death. Nyakeriga says, "There is need to protect children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technology, parentless-child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care or otherwise."

The bill also seeks to introduce 'Aggravated homosexuality', which includes committing sodomy with a minor or where the offender is HIV-positive. Again, the punishment would be stoning to death in public.

I wish Nyakeriga would read what we affectionately termed 'The Njoki Bill' because he will find that all forms of child rape and pedophilia were not only defined, but their punishment is clearly stated. I also wish that in his zeal to punish sexual criminals and deviants, he would seek understanding of what he is trying to criminalize. Pedophilia and homosexuality are two separate things. Pedophiles sexually prey on children while homosexuals have consensual sex with consenting adults of the same gender.

Nyakeriga claims that his petition aims at 'providing comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the cherished culture of the people of Kenya, legal, religious and traditional family values against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Kenya'. As a sexual rights advocate, let me assure you that I do not dream of a promiscuous Kenya. In fact, I wish this Republican Liberty Party had come out to strongly to oppose the recently signed Marriage Bill that sees married men continue to date and conceive children outside of their marriages and without their wives knowledge or consent. What I want is a Kenya in which all adults can freely express themselves and their sexuality with other consenting adults. A Kenya in which the damage and humiliation inherent in forced sexual practice is recognised and punished. A Kenya in which our children are free to grow up safely and women own their bodies as much as men do.

Let us not enshrine discrimination of minority groups under the title 'cherished culture' there is much in our culture that forward thinking Kenyans want to shed - discrimination, child marriage, FGM, the systematic and consequent free rape of women among others. For all those MPs who sit on the anti-gay committee please find better use for your parliamentary time.

Yes, our children need to be safe, yes our children should be protected from sexual predators but frankly, foreign predators are few and far between. The one in three Kenyan women who have been sexually abused and'chotwad' were not tortured and humiliated by foreigners. Oh no, this violence was meted out by fathers, uncles, husbands, family friends and neighbours.

Nyakeriga, if your aim is really to protect children, start by asking why our Judiciary lacks the will to prosecute sexual offenders. Start by understanding pedophilia, and then perhaps writing a bill that criminalises the acceptance of dowry as punishment for the rape of a nine-year-old girl. When parents and elders accept such reparations, their misguided intentions make them implicit in the rape of that child...

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