Lobby group wants court to ban anti-LGBTQ protests

mombasa anti-gay protest

Mombasa County residents, led by Anti- LGBTQ+ Movement chairman Salim Karama (C), hold a protest march from Moi Avenue, condemning the Supreme Court ruling that permitted the registration of lobbies. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

The High Court has given a lobby group and crusader for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer health and human rights seven days to amend a petition challenging the activities of the anti-LGBTQ movement.

The petition before the Mombasa High Court alleges that the activities have resulted in gross human rights violations against the LGBTQ community.

Through a lawyer, the petitioners, identified as JM and the Centre for Minority Rights and Strategic Litigation (CMRSL), told the court that some circumstances 'on the ground' had changed and that the petition needed to be amended to reflect this.

In their petition, Mr JM and the CMRSL are seeking, among other things, a declaration that the LGBTQ community in the country is entitled to rights and freedoms under the Constitution.

They have sued the Inspector General of Police, two anti-LGBTQ activists and the Anti-LGBTQ Movement.

They have named the National Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International-Kenya, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission as interested parties in the case.

The petitioners, who also told the court that they are yet to serve the petition on the respondents and interested parties, are also seeking a declaration that the anti-LGBTQ activists are violating the rights and freedoms of the (LGBTQ) community as guaranteed by the Constitution.

They say a Supreme Court ruling in favour of LGBTQ rights sparked a strong backlash from anti-LGBTQ groups in the country who were unhappy with the court's decision.

"These groups have coalesced into a national movement calling itself the 'Anti-LGBTQ Movement', which has since waged a relentless campaign of hate calling for violence, elimination and expulsion of the LGBTQ population from the country," the petition reads.

The petitioners argue that the group's religious and political leaders mobilised rallies and marches to protest the ruling, spreading misinformation and hate speech against the LGBTQ community, while online bloggers and celebrities made inflammatory statements.

They say that on March 17, the anti-LGBTQ movement organised demonstrations and marches that took place in several cities and towns and were characterised by extreme homophobic hate speech and incitement to violence.

"These activities by the anti-LGBTQ movement have led to an increase in homophobic attacks in the country, with LGBTQ people facing confrontation from landlords, employers and community members," the petition reads in part.

It adds that organisations working with the LGBTQ population have reported over 100 cases of violence, forced evictions and denial of services.

The petitioners claim that demonstrations and accompanying hate speech have led to the closure of more than 20 organisations and facilities across the country that provide critical HIV and STI testing, treatment, care and mental health services due to security concerns.

They also say that in early August they learned that some members of the anti-LGBTQ movement were meeting in a WhatsApp group and fundraising for their activities, while organising criminal activities alongside demonstrations.

The petitioners claim that the anti-LGBTQ movement discussed the elimination of the community in the country.

They further claim that the activities of the Anti-LGBTQ alarmed the CMRSL and human rights organisations, who wrote letters to the Inspector General and copied the NCIC to curb the group's activities.

"Witnesses have recorded statements and provided evidence to the police, and an active investigation into the group's activities is underway," the petitioners argue.

They argue that the actions of the anti-LGBTQ movement have resulted in gross human rights violations against the LGBTQ community and its allies in the country.

The petitioners also want a declaration that the right to assemble, demonstrate, picket and petition the authorities is not available if the participants in the demonstrations intend to violate the Constitution.

They also want an order prohibiting the police from issuing licences or permits to anti-LGBTQ activists to hold public demonstrations against the LGBTQ community in the country.

The case will be listed for further instructions on October 11.