Denis Nzioka NGLHRC deputy director

Denis Nzioka, NGLHRC Deputy Director

An LGBT group in Kenya is taking the state to court because it won’t allow the organisation to register as an NGO.

Gay Star News reports that Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) claims that the government is discriminating against it and infringing on its constitutional right to free association.

The Non-Governmental Organisation Board, which refuses to recognise the group, has stated that its name is “not acceptable” and that “gay and lesbian liaisons” are illegal in the country.

“Registering NGLHRC is not part of any efforts to promote gay activities which are already criminalised or same-sex marriage,” said NGLHRC Deputy Director Denis Nzioka.

“But we want to further the well-being of gay people who are a minority group in Kenya, and who enjoy equal rights and freedoms as espoused in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

“Many LGBTI groups, facing outright rejections of their applications, have been forced to resort to changing their names, objectives and activities. Worse still, many are forced to hide their identities and members engagements and activities out of fear of being discovered.

“Gay and lesbian groups and associations have a right enjoy government recognition on an equal basis with other associations through registration,” he said.

The case is set to start being heard today but could continue into the New Year. It may prove to be a decisive one for the country’s LGBT community and the groups that work to support it.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, with penalties of between five to 14 years imprisonment, although prosecutions are not common.

Under the 2010 Kenyan constitution, the criminalisation of homosexuality may be unconstitutional, but this has not yet been challenged in court.

A global survey released earlier this year found that 90% of Kenyans believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

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