Kenya’s High Court has began hearing a case that may decriminalize homosexuality. The case opened on Friday in a crowded Nairobi courtroom.
The judges had to change to a different room to accommodate the large crowd.
Kenyan law currently prohibits carnal knowledge against the order of nature, labeling it a felony that is punishable with 14 years in prison.
According to Amnesty International, it’s a significant step in East Africa, where homosexuality is illegal in almost every country in the region and in 38 countries in total across the continent.
Eric Gitari, a Harvard-educated lawyer and founder of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of the organizations which brought forward the case in 2016.
The case argues that this law, which can be traced to British colonial law from the turn of the century, is unconstitutional.
He said, “The fact that we are being heard is an indicator that our democracy has come of age”.
“The judges know the entire world is watching,”.
“We are hopeful, the judgment is going to give guidance to countries across Africa. It’s going to encourage activists in so many African countries, it’s going create a ripple effect.”