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WHAT IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THIS DEBATE?

by KHRC
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on Friday, 22 June 2012
Your Say

From: Elijah Kamau Mwangi

The first thing i did, before writing this letter, is to browse through your website and find out what it is that you as a commission do and stand for. It is not that i did not know what you do. No, i just wanted to confirm what i already knew.  True, your website is great and the information contained there-in is well focussed. That should be a big plus for you as an organisation.

Now, there is this debate you introduced where you want Kenyan men to marry men and women to marry women for sexual fulfillment. Obviously, you should agree with me that such marriages can not be used for procreation.

Why is this debate taking place at all? The question of same sex marriages was put to rest when Kenyans passed the new constitution. I know you understand that Kenyans were opposed to the prof. Ghai draft, in part, due to the inclusion of a clause that would have legalised same sex marriages. The new constitution outlaws same sex marriages in the same vein in which it outlaws criminal activities etc etc.

You may want to urgue that if prostitution is not a crime so same sex marriages should also be decriminalised. I have the following to say.

1. Same sex marriages is not natural. God never intended it to be that way. Just take a keen look at the animal kingdom and draw your own conclusions.

2. If taking drugs like Bangi, Cocaine, Mandrax etc is not allowed by society, the same should go for same sex marriages. The society should not allow individuals to destroy themselves physically, mentally and spiritually just because their actions are of an individual nature and do not affect the rights of the other people.

3. Its already proven that lesbians soon come to terms with the reality. They fail to live up to their expectations and soon become unresponsive. They call it lesbian bed death. Is this what you want for our daughters? The same can also be said of gays.

4. In a nutshell what you are advocating is similar to saying that people should be  let to destroy themselves because they have a right to satisfy their desires. That the society shoould legalise suicide, substance abuse, pornography, etc.

5. Finally, i want to believe that the word 'groups' in your mission statement does not include gays, lesbians, transgenders, smokers, robbers etc but refers to those groups  that are recognised by our new constitution.

Please stop this debate. It will not add value to anyone, not even to those few misguided Kenyans.

Dear Elijah,

I hope that you are well. Thank you for your email titled "what is the substance?" It is always good to receive feedback on the work that we do and the effect that it has.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission works on all areas of human rights advocacy. One of these areas is the provision of human rights for all Kenyans including sexual minorities (Lesbian, gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender persons). The provision of these rights are based on equality and non-discrimination and the right for every Kenyan to live their lives in peace and harmony without fear of prejudice and persecution.

The limitation of the provision of rights to all people would be that if in the enjoyment of these rights, one infringes on the rights of someone else. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons are Kenyans who are entitled to the same rights that every Kenyan enjoys. The community, however, suffer gross human rights violations such as severe beatings, rape,  torture, discrimination amongst others, because of how they choose to live their lives in the privacy of their own homes.

It is important to point out that the manner in which these persons choose to live their lives, does not directly affect any person and how they choose to live their lives. The essence of democracy, to have the right to live your life as you see fit.

The Kenyan Human Rights Commission is dedicated to ensure that no one should suffers persecution and therefore, we intervene to ensure that all persons are protected from this illegality, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We work to serve all Kenyans, and we undertake to protect any person who is suffering in any way.

The new constitution ensures protection of a variety of different human rights which includes the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to freedom and security of the person, right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of movement and residence and freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion.

Every Kenyan is allowed to think and feel as they want to, however, when a person takes these thoughts or feelings and use them to cause harm to someone else either physically or mentally, they are going against the constitution and in violation of the persons human rights.

In feeling strongly against how someone chooses to live their life, you are exercising your right to freedom of belief and opinion, but you must not use this prejudice to makes someone else's life difficult or to persecute them.

Legally, there is no reason that is attached to the right to marry. Marriage being solely for procreation purposes is a religious belief and/or a personal belief. However, Kenyans have the right to freedom of religion, belief and conscience. It is very important to separate religious beliefs and person beliefs. One cannot impose religious beliefs on someone who does not have them, nor can you impose one’s personal beliefs on another.

Whereas the constitution states in Article 45(2) that "every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex", it does NOT prohibit or criminalize marriage between same sex persons. In fact, there is no law that prohibits same sex marriage. The law however, expressly states that the only marriage which is recognizable by law in Kenya, is one between persons of the opposite sex. If persons of the same sex choose to marry, it cannot be conducted by a registered state official or registered in law.

The State in protecting Kenyans and providing for its citizens, CANNOT direct how persons lives their lives as it is a constitutional guarantee to live your life as you deem fit. In the same thought, the Society MUST respect each and every individual's right and their choices in how they conduct their life. Everybody in society has an opinion and more often than not, they differ. It would be impossible for all persons to agree on one set way for everyone to live, financially, materially and morally.

Finally, I think that it is prudent to remember that we have to be accepting of all members of the society as we are all Kenyans. We have to be respectful of all tribes, races, cultures and beliefs in order to achieve a truly inclusive and equal society.

I hope that this enables you to understand the work that theCommission does. We are thankful for your continued support

Best wishes,

Monicah Kareithi

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