This is major. East and Central Africa’s largest media conglomerate has banned all political advertising that includes any "hate speech" or "contempt" toward "sexual orientation." The new guidance by the Nation Media Group will affect advertising in Kenya's and Tanzania's largest newspapers, Uganda's largest independent newspaper and broadcast outlets in all three nations.
The guidelines were released in advance of Kenya's upcoming elections, reports Behind The Mask.
The move by the NMG to publish guidelines for political advertising comes as a pleasant surprise. The group released a statement in its flagship Daily Nation newspaper on May 26 outlining rules to be observed prior to running political advertisements in any of the NMG publications or broadcast media.
Perhaps the most significant new NMG rule for human rights defenders is Rule 5 which states: "Advertisements shall be rejected outright if they contain the following: ...
a) Obscene or profane language or pictorial representation that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability."
NMG includes The Daily Nation—Kenya's largest newspaper—and Uganda's Daily Monitor. The group also includes NTV, which broadcasts in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The Nation has published a number of pro-LGBT pieces reports in recent months, such as this op-ed attacking anti-gay bias.
The ban on anti-gay political advertising comes only three weeks after the Kenya National Human Rights Commission called for the decriminalization of same-sex relations. The Daily Nation's editorial page supported the move.
Kenya's government is considered progressive on gay rights. Same-sex relations are illegal—penalties are between five and 14 years’ imprisonment—but arrests and prosecutions are rare. Kenya was the first African nation to include men who have sex with men in their national HIV strategy. Two pro-LGBT justices were confirmed to the Supreme Court in June 2011. The recently-appointed Chief Justice Dr. Willy Munyoki Mutunga has said that "gay rights are human rights" and expressed a desire to overturn anti-gay legislation. As a result, Kenya has rapidly become a refuge for many LGBTs who have been persecuted in East African nations.
But there has been a backlash against previous calls to decriminalize homosexuality in the East African nation. In November 2010, Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the mass arrests of gays at a political rally but later retracted his statements.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
Some Background ...
Kenya HRC Calls for Repealing Anti-Gay Laws
Kenyan Men Forced into Gulf Sex Trafficking?
UN Chief Urges African Leaders to Respect Gays
KENYA: Pro-LGBT Justices Confirmed
Controversy in Kenya After Pro LGBT Nominees
Kenyan Prime Minister: "All Gays Should Be Arrested"
KENYA: Questions Surround Mandatory HIV Testing
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"