Kenyan Bishops Welcome Court Ruling That Keeps Homosexuality Criminalized

Cardinal John Njue

Catholic bishops in Kenya have applauded a court ruling that keeps homosexuality criminalized in that nation.

Three judges on Kenya’s High Court declined to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, which carry sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment. To do so, they said, would defy both societal values and the spirit of the nation’s Constitution which explicitly endorses heterosexual norms. Legalizing homosexuality was part of, in their words, “foreign doctrines.” SDE reported on Catholic bishops’ response:

“[Nairobi’s] John Cardinal Njue of the Catholic Church said the homosexual agenda was being pushed by foreign forces, reiterating that God created Adam and Eve. . .

“Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Catholic Church said it was God’s wisdom that guided the judges in making the decision to uphold what the church believes is the true foundation of families.

Bishop Alfred Rotich

“‘We are happy this has come to pass. Our society is built on family unions and what we are telling homosexuals is that they will be wasting their time to appeal the decision. They should come to us for counselling so that they come out of those groups,’ said Rotich.”

Rotich said further that Kenya “cannot be another Sodom and Gomorrah,” reported Reuters. Gerald Walterfung of the Catholic-backed Kenya Christian Professionals Forum said the ruling helped stop a “destructive sexual lifestyle.”

The situation for LGBTQ people in Kenya is bleak. Between 2013 and 2017, 534 people were arrested for homosexuality, according to The GuardianBut worse is the vigilante discrimination and violence the community routinely faces. LGBTQ advocates claim there have been more than 1,500 hate crimes in the last five years with blackmail and extortion practiced regularly.

Njue and Rotich teach a deformed version of church teaching that ignores LGBTQ people’s human dignity and fails to oppose unjust discrimination. Rotich’s reference to Sodom and Gomorrah is an irresponsible use of Scripture, and Njue seemingly defies science in a reference to counseling that could imply reparative therapy. The two bishops are not alone in prelates who have failed the People of God on anti-LGBTQ criminalization. For instance, a Tanzanian archbishop said it was “better to die of hunger” than to accept homosexuality, while Singapore’s archbishop said decriminalization would have “dreadful consequences.”

But in addition, prelates supportive of criminalizing homosexuality are increasingly at odds with the Vatican’s position. As early as 2008, the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations said the church supports decriminalization. There is hope now that the Vatican will take up this stance more proactively after some fifty LGBTQ advocates met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to discuss the issue. The meeting was a “great step forward” according to one LGBTQ group, but more action is needed. For an exclusive account of the meeting from D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association, click here.

In supporting the High Court’s ruling, Njue and Rotich have put thousands of vulnerable people at risk. Thankfully, their views are held by fewer and fewer church leaders.

For more information on Catholics and anti-LGBTQ criminalization, see New Ways Ministry’s “Criminalization” resource page. For Bondings 2.0’s full coverage of the issues, see our category “Anti-LGBT Criminalization.”

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 14, 2019

4 replies
  1. John Montague
    John Montague says:

    What these bishops teach is contrary to catholic church teaching. They are not supporting the magisterium.

  2. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    This article brought back memories of a poem I wrote in 1979, five years after I became involved with Dignity in St. Louis:

    In Jesus’ Name

    when you said some
    would be persecuted
    because of your name,
    I did not know you meant
    some would use your name
    as a club with which to beat
    your sisters and brothers.

    But I look at your Church
    and see your name on the arrows,
    knives, bonfires, bombs and words
    used by “Christians” to destroy
    Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox,
    Muslims, immigrants, Queer people, women
    and others for whom you poured out your blood.

    Your Church does not know
    that when your name pierces
    your sisters and brothers,
    and spills their blood,
    it spills your blood as well.

  3. Anton
    Anton says:

    I wonder if the Kenyan bishops would support a government that keeps Christianity criminalized or things like the Jim Crow laws in place? It seems strange to me that Catholic bishops don’t see INJUSTICE perpetrated against others than (supposedly) themselves.
    Pastor Martin Niemoller  who was anti-Nazi:
    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  4. Gabriela Assagioli
    Gabriela Assagioli says:

    It seems to me that all of this is driven by the need to assert power and personal fears. So often over the years I have heard judgments against sexual activities of lesbian and gay humans and how unnatural the behavior is. Some even seem repulsed by the thought. I don’t think enough is said about how unnatural it is for same sex couples to have sex with the same sex.
    A wise nun’s response to me during a retreat when I shared my discover of my lesbian identity, “Well Gabriela, some people like peas and others like carrots while still others like peas and carrots.” In lots of ways I think this simple analogy, if embraced. could bring a lot of freedom to the fear driven hate in Catholicism and other religions that are not pluralistic in their thinking..


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