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Judge says Kenyans will accept homosexuals, but it will take time

A senior judge on Wednesday said homosexuality “will eventually be accepted in Kenya though it would take years”.

Justice Wanjiru Karanja of the Court of Appeal told the Judicial Service Commission that Kenya was a nascent democracy, where tradition and culture were highly valued, and that even old democracies such as the US took centuries to accept such people.

“I don’t want to create the impression that if a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer case is brought to me, I’d handle it as such, but Kenyans need to be heard. The Constitution provides for the protection of human rights. Let us understand them first,” she said.

The judge is among several people, who have expressed interest in the deputy chief justice job.

INTERSEX IS BIOLOGICAL

She said there should be no controversy surrounding intersex people, since this “is biological”.

“It’s not something they brought upon themselves. The courts have a responsibility to guide us through this,” she said.

Justice Karanja was asked to explain her role in the 2003 radical surgery of the Judiciary.

“It could have been done in a better way. Those mentioned should have been given a fair hearing,” she said, adding that her role was minimal since she only got names and presented them to the relevant agency.

In 2003, dozens of judges and magistrates were implicated in corruption by a committee, which recommended their prosecution.

They were given two weeks to resign or face a tribunal. Justice Karanja said that if appointed deputy chief justice, she would seek compensation for the judges and magistrates who lost their jobs.

CULTURE OF FEAR

She said the vetting of judges and magistrates had led to a culture of fear. Many, she added, were now afraid of giving rulings because this “can paint them as corrupt or unfit to hold office”.

Justice Karanja said the vetting panel needs to be linked with a higher court, which will examine its findings and make conclusions.

The judge said the Judiciary should provide a mechanism or an office that follows up on men who have abandoned their children.

“Men need to be told that once they sire children, it is their responsibility to take care of them,” she said.

Asked why the lesser of the two thirds gender rule always leaned towards women, she said time had come for women to change their mindset.

The judge said there was a need to train state counsels who replaced police prosecutors for effective dispensation of justice.

She said the counsel should be included in the ongoing training of judges and magistrates, or the government should create a permanent institution where they can be trained.

Justice Karanja said that if appointed DCJ, her priority would be to fight corruption and reduce backlog of cases.