A disappointing end to a promising career. Kenya’s second most powerful judge and a prominent LGBT ally resigned nine months after she was accused of threatening a security guard with a gun. Baraza resigned from the court two weeks ago.
Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza was one of two pro-LGBT reformers confirmed to the Supreme Court in June 2011. The other one was Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga. Justice Baraza was accused of threatening the guard with the weapon less than six months later, reports the BBC.
According to the female guard, the judge had pinched her nose and pulled out a gun after refusing to be frisked at a shopping centre on New Year's Eve. In August a tribunal recommended that Ms Baraza be sacked. Ms Baraza, who was suspended from her post in January, has denied pointing a gun at the guard.
[Baraza] said she had dropped her appeal to the Supreme Court as she felt she would not get a fair hearing. She said the chief justice, who is also Supreme Court president, had endorsed the tribunal's recommendations in a television interview. "I do not see myself getting a fair and impartial hearing before the court as currently constituted," AFP quotes her as saying in a statement.
The seven-member panel, headed by Tanzania's former Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani, agreed with the guard's account of events at the Village Market shopping centre.
Security has been stepped up in public places across Kenya since it sent troops into neighbouring Somalia a year ago. The al-Qaeda aligned al-Shabab group threatened to take revenge and there have been numerous grenade attacks in Nairobi and elsewhere.
R20 reported in 2011 on the backlash surrounding the pro-LGBT views of the two leading reformers nominated to head to the Supreme Court. Baraza is completing a doctoral thesis on sexual minority rights. Former law professor Mutunga supported the creation of one of Kenya's first LGBT groups. Since his confirmation, Mutunga has said that "gay rights are human rights" and expressed a desire to overturn anti-gay legislation.
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. As a result of these and many other incremental advances, Kenya has rapidly become a refuge for many LGBTs who have been persecuted in East African nations.
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