NAIROBI – Kenya’s High Court on Friday postponed a much-anticipated ruling on whether to scrap colonial-era laws which criminalize homosexuality, citing a heavy caseload.
“The files are above my height… we are still working,” said Chacha Mwita, one of the judges, who added that one of his colleagues was on leave and other members of the three-judge bench were juggling multiple cases.
He set the decision for 24 May.
“We plan to meet in April if all goes well and see whether we can come up with a decision. You do not appreciate what the judges are going through.”
Gay rights organizations are asking the court to scrap two sections of the penal code that criminalize homosexuality.
One section states that anyone who has “carnal knowledge… against the order of nature” can be imprisoned for 14 years. Another provides for a five-year jail term for “indecent practices between males”.
The petition was initially filed in 2016, and activists had been eagerly awaiting the decision, which could reverberate around Africa where several nations are grappling with similar laws.
On social media, Kenya’s LGBT community and allies have been anxiously counting down the hours to the ruling.
“To say we are disappointed would be an understatement,” the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council (NGLHRC), one of the petitioners, wrote on Twitter.