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Outcry Sparks as UK Mission in Kenya Raises Gay Flag
Outcry Sparks as UK Mission in Kenya Raises Gay Flag
| May 17, 2024

A rainbow flag representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is waved in this file photo. Photo: Raphael Renter

Kenyans on X have criticised the UK over the British High Commission’s decision to fly a LGBT+ flag in Nairobi on Friday.

This marks the second occasion since the new High Commissioner took station in Nairobi, with the act publicly posted on X and Instagram.

The rainbow LGBT flag was flown alongside the UK flag.

“No one left behind: Equality, freedom and justice for all,” read an Instagram post from the UK mission in Nairobi.

It added, “The British High Commission is proudly flying the rainbow flag to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.”

A rainbow flag was flown on 17 May to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

“We know that societies, economies and democracies only thrive when everyone’s rights and freedoms are protected,” the post read.

Frustrated by the incident, Kenyan citizens voiced their disapproval on social media.

Clement Shikanda expressed his stance, stating, “When it comes to LGBTQ, our society will never accept it.”

Dave Ombongi chimed in, “Take this agenda elsewhere. You’re trying to impose your beliefs on our society, just like you corrupted our traditional values in the past. It’s appalling.”

Ngengi Magana emphasised, “This isn’t about human rights; it’s about our society and cultural values. This behavior is not acceptable or tolerable.”

Although homosexuality is currently illegal in Kenya, the conservative East African country is growing tolerant of same-sex relationships, human rights campaigners have claimed.

This comes as politicians seek to clamp down on sexual freedoms, with parliament planning to revise the criminal code, including clauses affecting the LGBT+ community.

Kenya is considering the Family Protection Bill 2023, which could lead to 50-year prison sentences for non-consensual same-sex acts.

Sponsored by Homa Bay Town legislator Peter Kaluma, the bill aims to ban homosexuality, same-sex unions, and LGBTQ activities and campaigns.

It also intends to prohibit gay parades, assemblies, marches, and public cross-dressing.

According to the bill, individuals engaging in non-consensual same-sex acts could face imprisonment for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 50 years.

Owners of premises used for same-sex relations may be fined $14,000 (£11,000) or serve a seven-year jail term if the bill becomes law.

It also comes after Kenya’s Supreme Court upheld a mid-September 2023 decision to allow the registration of LGBTQ non-governmental organizations, overturning a decade-long dispute with the National Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission, which had been denied registration by Kenya’s NGO Coordinating Board.

The Supreme Court’s ruling earlier last year deemed such discrimination unconstitutional, marking a significant milestone for LGBTQ organizations in Kenya.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations does not explicitly address the flying of non-official flags, such as the LGBT+ flag, by diplomatic missions.

However, diplomatic missions are expected to adhere to the laws and regulations of the host country and to conduct themselves in a manner that respects local customs and sensitivities.

In May 2022, Indonesia summoned the British ambassador to explain the raising of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) flag at its embassy in Jakarta, and urged foreign missions to respect local sensitivies following a backlash among conservatives.

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