Greater protections needed for human rights defenders working on sexual orientation and gender identity rights in Kenya

07 October 2021

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has highlighted the serious rights violations thatRainbow LGBT flag at a protest. human rights defenders face when working to prevent violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), in its latest report.

The report, ‘The Undefended Defender’, focuses on three Kenyan counties where human rights defenders continue to face significant risks in their work including harassment, rejection by family, destruction of property, loss of life, forceful eviction, discrimination, detention, torture, defamation, loss of employment, denial of freedom of movement and difficulty in obtaining legal recognition for their associations. These risks are linked to the continued criminalisation of consensual same-sex activity.

In a statement on its website, the KNCHR said:

Human rights defenders play a critical role in safeguarding democracy and ensuring that societies remain open, pluralistic and in line with the rule of law. The defence of human rights, either individually or in association with others, is a legitimate activity necessary to secure communities full enjoyment of their rights.

The KNCHR is currently undertaking a number of projects to promote a safe environment for human rights defenders to work in under its current strategic plan for 2018 to 2023 and the Marrakesh Declaration aim of expanding civic space and protecting human rights defenders.

The complicity of state agencies, such as the National Police Service, in SOGI-related violence and violence towards human rights defenders emerged as a key finding of the report.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Parliament of Kenya, including:

  • decriminalising consensual same-sex activity through the repeal of discriminatory laws
  • domesticating the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders into Kenyan legislation and policy
  • enacting a comprehensive equality and non-discrimination law that increases protections against SOGI-related violence
  • providing adequate funding to the KNCHR to carry out its remit and protect human rights defenders

Read the full report including all recommendations to the Parliament of Kenya, National Police Service, and proposed actions to be taken by KNCHR.

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