The Fairness of Human Rights.

The legal definition of Human Rights is: The fundamental rights that humans have by the fact of being human, and that are neither created nor can be abrogated by any government, these include cultural, economic, and political rights, such as right to life, liberty, education and equality before law, and right of association, belief, free speech, information, religion, movement, and nationality. In my opinion human rights are essential and vital to the human experience and everyone should be allowed to experience these freedoms, they should not be oppressed in anyway way shape or form and this past week some of these rights were essentially violated, stomped on, bashed or blatantly disregarded.

This all began last week when the leader of the ‘free world’ took a stand and made a decision that he had long thought about and ‘struggled’ with, a stance that some said would either gain or lose him supporters and that his aspirations in the upcoming elections would take some kind of a hit although that is yet to be seen the response here in Africa and specifically here in Kenya has been that of outrage by some and passiveness by others. ( for more of what pres. Obama said watch video at botom of post)

None the less it was a landmark decision for those in America who are (or who suffer from the condition of being) LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered, - yes I just wrote those three dirty words- when none less than the sitting president of that great nation gathered his strength and staring straight into a camera and uttered his support for this rather marginalised section in society.

In Kenya and Africa at large being –God forbid- LGBT could get you thrown out of the place you call home or worse sent to prison or stoned by an angry mob. On this side of the world it is considered by many to be:’ just crazy. It’s just madness. Insanity. We can’t do it or the dead will turn in their graves’. In Sudan where Sharia law is practiced being homosexual could just get you executed, where as in Zimbabwe being gay or merely supporting those who are could see you without a roof over your head, (a fundamental human right)banished and disposed of the land you once proudly owned. That country’s Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo – a member of President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party – said that “The chiefs are there to protect and promote our cultural values and those who support same-sex marriages must be banished from communities and dispossessed of their land.” His president has also gotten his feet wet in matters anti-gay Mugabe boldly told British Prime Minister David Cameron ‘To hell with you’ when the PM called for the respect of gay rights.

Uganda too jumped on the band wagon and harshly called for nothing less than death or life imprisonment for all those who dare to be gay. In 2009 a bill was proposed that would impose the death penalty on gays living with HIV this decision was later rethought after persistent International pressure, despite that Homosexuality is still a criminal offence in the Eastern African country where gays are afraid for their safety. Here in Kenya it is repugnant to cultural values and morality and a taboo, citizens are arrested on charges of loitering and disturbing the peace, they are held in remand houses beyond the constitutional period without charges being preferred against them, and presented in court on trumped-up charges.

The law of the land:

In 2010 Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the behavior of gay couples was "unnatural" and that, "If found the homosexuals should be arrested and taken to relevant authorities". He asserted that "there was no need for homosexual relationships" According to the law of the land; Sex acts between men are illegal under Kenyan statutes and carry a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment. In 2010 the country won their long race towards a new constitution where the law includes: The national values and principles of governance which includes;

(b) Human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized.

Furthermore (1) The Bill of Rights [Articles 19-59] is an integral part of Kenya’s democratic state and is the framework for social, economic and cultural policies.

(2) The purpose of recognizing and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and to promote social justice and the realization of the potential of all human beings.

Article 27. Equality and freedom from discrimination.

(1) Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

(2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms.

(3) Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

(4) The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.

(5) A person shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against another person on any of the grounds specified or contemplated in clause (4).

• Article 28. Human dignity.

Every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.

• Article 31. Privacy.

Every person has the right to privacy

But it’s not all bad:

Those in South Africa opened their minds and evolved their laws concerning the LGBT what seems to be eons ago now in 2006 and just recently Malawi changed their own previously harsh stance; with a new president has come a new resolve to change things. Joyce Banda has pledged to lift the country's ban on homosexuality, breaking ranks from much of Africa.

Human Rights should be respected and before we stone others to death, run them out of town imprison them, insult them into hiding or evict them from their homes we must remember that we are all part of the same human race and whether or not we agree with them we must respect and treat them as such. As CJ Willy Munyoki Mutunga once said:

The other frontier of marginalization is the gay rights movement. Gay rights are human rights. Here I'm simply confining my statement to the context of human rights and social justice paradigm, and avoiding the controversy that exists in our constitutions and various legislation. As far as I know, human rights principles that we work on, do not allow us to implement human rights selectively.


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