President Ruto broke his silence over the verdict by the apex court last week allowing registration of LGBTQ+ lobby groups, arguing that whereas he respects the courts, he disagrees with the ruling adding that religions of the land forbid same sex marriages.
“I am a God fearing man. Even though we respect the court, our religion, traditions, law and customs do not allow for women to marry fellow women, nor for men to marry fellow men. I want to tell them that we have traditions, laws and customs, we respect our constitution and all our religions. We shall not allow women to marry women, or men to marry men. That is not possible in our country,” the President said.
The Head of State who was speaking during International Women’s Day celebrations in Nairobi vowed that he will not allow same sex marriages to take place under his watch.
“Do not worry. It will happen elsewhere; it won’t happen in Kenya. We know that there are many people spreading this idea, our children in university are being pressured by these dirty teachings. I ask all religious leaders in the country to stand firm and educate our children and Kenyans so that we do not lose our customs, Christian and Islamic religious beliefs to platforms that are preaching foreign concepts,” he added.
Separately, Mr Odinga who hosted Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) in Nairobi led other Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition principals including Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka, Eugene Wamalwa and Jeremiah Kioni in condemning the Supreme Court ruling and accused President Ruto of advancing the beliefs of a single religion against the laws of Kenya.
“Article 45(2) of our constitution states that every adult has a right to marry a person of the opposite sex based on the free consent of the parties and that’s the law,” Mr Odinga said, claiming that the Judiciary overstepped its mandate in allowing registration of homosexual groups.
“It’s not the role of the Judiciary to make laws. If there is a lacuna, you go to Parliament for laws to be amended. Parliament has not amended any laws regarding homosexuality and if they have to, they must do it in line with Article 45(2),” the former Prime Minister said.
Mr Odinga hit out at President Ruto over what he termed as elevating Christianity at the expense of other religions in the country. He said Christian gatherings at State House were discriminatory against other religions recognised by Kenya’s constitution.
“The constitution recognises Kenya as a secular state and as a leader you must recognise all religions. There is no religion better than the other, they are equal because they all talk about God.”
“I’m a Christian, an Anglican, but I know there are Catholics, Legio Maria, SDA, AIC and all are Christians. But then Kenya has Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and traditional religions which all deserve respect and recognition,” the ODM leader said.
CIPK Nairobi coordinator Salim Charo said the Supreme court verdict on LDBTQ+ amounts to the usurpation of the role of Parliament to make laws that are consistent with the ideals, culture and traditions of Kenyans.
“It is our understanding that the issues raised here are urgent and need to be acted on now, and that we shall not hesitate to support other steps, including a resort to people’s power to realise the objectives should Kenya Kwanza fail to act,” Mr Charo said.
President Ruto’s sentiments were also shared by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
“This is satanic and goes against our beliefs. Our President is a man of faith and will do what needs to be done. In any case, we have our traditions and customs, and what they are suggesting is repugnant to morality and justice and our way of life,” the DP said.
“Those who opposed the new constitution are the ones mutilating it now with such verdicts. Our position is that we are fully behind the constitution as it is and we condemn the Supreme Court for trying to appease the West after making a wrong presidential verdict last year,” Mr Musyoka claimed.
Mr Wamalwa pointed out that the Penal Code and the constitution remain clear that homosexuality is illegal. He also weighed in on President Ruto’s apparent favouritism towards the Christian religion, saying that he should respect the constitution.
“State House is the peoples house. It cannot be a preserve of a section of religious leaders. We cannot allow discrimination based on religion because Kenya is a multi-religious nation,” the DAP-K party leader said.
The Supreme Court upheld a High Court judgment that the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordination Board ought to register an NGO that seeks to fight for the human rights of LGBTQ people saying not doing so would amount to discrimination based on sexual orientation. It did not touch on same-sex marriages.