A bill that calls for stoning as a punishment for “aggravated homosexuality” or for any foreigner who commits a “homosexual act” has been proposed to Kenya’s National Assembly by a Seventh-day Adventist politician.
Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga, legal secretary of the Republican Liberty Party, modeled the bill on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill (recently thrown out in court on a technicality). Nyakeriga told Kenya’s Daily Nation that he does not know anyone who is gay. He also mentioned his clean lifestyle including abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and his regular church attendance. He said he has proposed this bill to protect his children when they are no longer under his care.
Nyakeriga’s new Anti-Gay Bill has been receiving attention in the international press, and now that it has been reported that the bill’s drafter is a Seventh-day Adventist, some of the spotlight has swung over to the church.
The proposed bill provides for the offense of “sodomy,” which would earn offenders life imprisonment - unless they are non-Kenyan, in which case they would be stoned to death in public.
Nyakeriga told the Daily Nation this extreme and highly unusual form of punishment is reserved for foreigners because, in his thinking, homosexuality is not an African practice and has been introduced by unsavory elements.
“Whoever wants to bring it sees Kenya as a dumping ground. Ours is an expression of extreme deterrence,” he said.
Stoning would also be the punishment for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined by the bill as including: committing homosexual acts with people under 18, if the offender is a person living with HIV, if the person committing the act is in authority over the other person, serial offenders, and when a person with a disability is involved.
The proposed bill is so closely modeled on Uganda’s bill that many clauses are virtually word-for-word.
Nyakeriga’s bill was passed to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee last week.
While an uproar against the proposed bill is growing in momentum, there seems to be little chance of it actually going anywhere.
The Republican Liberal Party is a tiny party in Kenyan politics — according to the Daily Nation, it does not have a single member of parliament, any Senate seats, and no significant county representation.
While a few members of Kenya’s parliament did form an anti-gay caucus earlier this year, the government has told its members that there is no need to introduce new laws against same-sex orientation. Furthermore, even the anti-gay caucus has distanced itself from Nyakeriga’s new bill proposing stoning, saying that the penalty is out of sync with modern thinking.
However, whatever happens with the bill, its association with the Seventh-day Adventist church is notable.
Someone has started a petition at Change.org, demanding that Adventist church officials call for Nyakeriga to renounce his proposed legislation.
Eliel Cruz, president and co-founder of the Intercollegiate Adventist Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition in the US, is also urging the world church to distance itself from Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga. “What is concerning is that [Nyakeriga] is using his church membership and religious beliefs as a validation for his inhumane views of LGBT people," Cruz said. "I hope the GC responds quickly in condemnation of this proposal."
Image: Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga pictured in Kenya's Daily Nation.