There has been a backlash in Kenya over the selection process and pro-LGBT views of two leading reformers nominated to head to the Supreme Court, report the Daily Nation and the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation.
One week ago, the Kenyan Judicial Service Commission nominated lawyers Dr. Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza for the positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice respectively. Nairobi lawyer Harrison Kinyajui has filed a motion with the court seeking an immediate injunction.
The court has declined to block the nominations, reports the Kenya Daily Star via All Africa.
High Court Judge Jeanne Gacheche said she was not in a position to give the urgent orders sought by Kinyanjui because she had received conflicting information. ... However, Justice Gacheche certified the case as urgent and directed it to be heard on May 26.
Kinyanjui also says Mutunga and Baraza are not fit to head the judiciary because they have both explicitly supported homosexuality. "Dr Mutunga facilitated the incorporation of Kenya Gay and Lesbian Trust dated October 31, 2006, whose objective was to engage in activism for the abolition of legal and extra legal forms of discrimination by same gender loving people," reads his court papers.
Kinyanjui says the JSC decision to nominate a single nominee for each post "amounts to a dictatorial decision because it leaves no room for debate. He also says JSC has acted mischievously, unconstitutionally and in total disregard of the need to treat all the interested parties with dignity. The church and a section of politicians have also criticized the JSC choices.
Mutunga is law professor and one-time political detainee. Baraza is co-founder of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and completing a doctoral thesis on sexual minority rights. Church leaders have blasted both choices—and Mutunga's habit of wearing a diamond stud in one ear.
Kenya's government is considered moderate on gay rights. But there has been a backlash against calls to decriminalize homosexuality in the East African nation, such as one cabinet minister's recent proposal to scrap the nation's sodomy laws. Last November, Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the mass arrests of gays at a political rally and later retracted his statements.
At the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna last July, African and Kenyan HIV/AIDS activists credited Nairobi for some advances and were cautiously optimistic. "Kenya was the first African nation to include MSM in their national HIV strategy," Nairobi-based peer educator Job Akuno told R20, Black AIDS Weekly and MSNBC in Vienna. "That was in 2006. But ... it seems like we are rolling back on some of the gains that we made."
Some Background ...
Kenyan Prime Minister: "All Gays Should Be Arrested"
AIDS 2010: Joel Nana on African Gay/Bi Men, HIV
WATCH: CNN Surveys Gay Rights in SA, Kenya, Cuba
Kenyan Gays Demand Protection After Brutal Assault
Kenya: "Things are Changing in Favor of Gays"
Homosexuality is Un-African?