Kenya: New law shuts door to gay weddings
Those wishing to marry partners of the same sex still have to seek countries where such marriages are allowed, before they can tie the knot. Same sex marriages will not be allowed if proposals in the harmonised draft constitution become law.
Thursday, 19 November 2009, by The Nation
Only marriages between opposite sex will be recognised despite spirited attempts by the gay community to have their relationships legalised. According to the document, every adult will have the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, but this will be based on the "free consent of the parties".
It reads: "The parties to the marriage are entitled to equal rights at the time of marriage, during and at the dissolution of their union." The proposal by the committee of experts comes exactly a month after two Kenyan men became the first gay couple to openly wed in London, sparking a huge debate on morality issues in the country. It also elicited sharp responses from religious organisations, who described the union between Mr Chege Ngengi, 40 and his bride, Daniel Chege Gichia, 39, as "unacceptable and unnatural". The two became civil partners under the controversial Civil Partnership Act, which came into effect in the UK in 2005 allowing couples of the same sex to have legal recognition of their relationship.
During the drafting of the proposed law, Lawyer Otiende Amollo, a member of the committee had revealed that they had rejected suggestions by British MPs to recognise and protect the rights of homosexuals in the draft. "We told them that such a thing cannot happen because if we did so, a majority of Kenyans would reject the draft during the forthcoming referendum," he told journalists last month. The draft further says that all children, regardless of whether they had been born within or outside wedlock will be protected from all forms of exploitation and any work that is likely to be hazardous or adverse to their welfare. "They will also not be arrested or detained except as a measure of last resort," it adds.
Children, regardless of whether they were born within or outside wedlock, will also be considered equal before the law. And if by bad luck you sustain injuries from a defective good or service, then yopu need not worry -- you will definitely be compensated by those you had bought the goods from. It does not matter that you bought the good or service from a public or private entity. But this will only happen when the draft constitution becomes law. Kenyans will also have a right to live anywhere in the country without restrictions, with the State being required to provide access to justice for all.
"The fee shall be reasonable and shall not impede access to justice," reads the draft law. These are just but a few of the many proposals the Committee of Experts have put forward for debate as they seek to protect rights of Kenyans and their fundamental freedom. Kenyans must also be aware that if you are arrested by the police, the law requires that you should be arraigned before a court of law 'as soon as reasonably possible. This should not be later than 48 hours after your arrest or not later than the end of the first day in court after the expiry of the time. The draft constitution also upholds an individual's right to privacy, which includes the right not to have your house searched, possessions seized and information relating to their families or private affairs unnecessarily revealed.
First published in today's issue of the Kenyan newspaper the Nation, this article has been edited for publication here by HRHF / Niels Jacob Harbitz.