A scene from the banned Kenyan lesbian love story, Rafiki
Two women who were ‘caught’ kissing in public in Kenya were detained by a furious crowd who then forced them to the local police station.
According to media reports, the “suspected lesbians” were seen kissing passionately in the centre of the town of Thika, northeast of Nairobi, on Saturday.
“They were kissing here as people watched, members of the public became angry and took them to the station,” Ms Lucy Wambui, a resident, told the Nairobi News website.
The humiliated couple apparently confirmed to officers that they are in a relationship. One of the women is said to be a student at a local college while the other is from the Nairobi suburb of Karen.
It’s unclear what transpired after they were handed over to the police and if they were arrested or released. Under Section 162 of the penal code, they could, in theory, be charged with committing “unnatural offences” and jailed for up to 14 years.
While this, one of a handful of anti-LGBTQ laws, has usually been applied to men who have sex with men, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2010 called on police to arrest lesbian women along with gay men.
In April last year, government censors banned the lesbian love story Rafiki over its “clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya…” Following legal action, the film was allowed to be screened in cinemas for a week and broke box office records.
Last month, Kenya’s High Court shocked the world by upholding the country’s Colonial-era laws that criminalise homosexual acts.
The judges ruled that the provisions are not discriminatory because they do not single out LGBTQ people. They further stated that the petitioners failed to show that the ban is unconstitutional or a violation of their right to privacy and human dignity.
The decision was condemned by human rights organisations around the world. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that it sent a “dangerous signal” to society and was “inherently discriminatory.” Activists and LGBTQ groups said they intend to challenge the ruling in the Court of Appeal.