New Delhi: When news broke that India’s Supreme Court had struck down the archaic, 158-year-old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalises homosexuality, it sent waves of joy across the LGBTQ community world over.
But for activists in Kenya, it served as a ray of hope. After India’s top court upheld the fundamental rights of the country’s LGBTQ community, hopeful Kenyans on social media congratulated Indians and demanded a repeal of a similar law in the Kenyan Penal Code (KPC).
Homosexual intercourse is a crime in Kenya, as it was in India until Thursday morning. Enacted in 1930 by the British Colonial state, the Kenyan Penal Code lays down Section 162, which outlaws sodomy. Section 165 of the KPC bans intimate relationships between men. Together, these two provisions are effectively like the erstwhile Section 377 of the IPC.
Kenyan groups opposed to homosexuality have often cited India’s example to defend Section 162.
LGBTQ rights activists in Kenya have long been demanding the repeal of these controversial sections and the Indian verdict is likely to give their movement a new wind. The movement has already started to take shape on social media where people of Kenya have started tweeting using #Repeal162.
Referring to Thursday’s judgment, Mariga Wangombe, a Nairobi-based social activist, said, “This was the main law (case law upholding it) that the Kenyan Attorney General and Kenya Christian Professionals Forum were using to push for the continued criminalisation of male homosexuality in Kenya. It's been struck down. I see a win coming.”
Brenda Wambui, host of a Kenyan podcast, also hailed India’s top court and said, “My Facebook is really popping after the news of India repealing Section 377. I’m so happy for my friends, and proud of them for their tireless campaigning. I can’t wait for Kenya to #Repeal162.”
Another user, Tunu Ramtu, said, “#India strucks down Section 377 of the penal code in a landmark ruling. Kenyan courts we are waiting #Repeal162.” Kenne Mwikya said India had shown them that it could be done. “Congratulations to the many many courageous activists who dedicated their time, resources, and efforts to this. Thank you for showing us that it CAN be done. #Repeal162.”
Support for India’s LGBTQIA community has been pouring in from all corners of the world. Several Pakistani Twitter users also congratulated India and hoped that it would spark a debate on civil liberties in Pakistan as well. One user, Bismah Mehmud, even joked and asked, “Siri how do you reverse Partition? #377Verdict.”