Written by David Kuria Tuesday, 14 June 2011 14:59
Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Kenya tend not to agree on many things. On the issue of same-sex s however, the two read from the same script to a fault. That is why it will be interesting to watch how the Christian religious leaders react to the recent Muslim clerics call on the Government to allow them apply Sharia law to deal with rising cases of homosexuality.
Sharia was one of the most contentious issues in the run up to the Referendum on the New Constitution. The church leadership in the “No” camp feared that the presence of the Kadhi’s court in the Constitution would lead to the introduction of the law.
Indeed so intense was the debate that it took the interventions of respected clergy like retired Anglican Arch-bishop David Gitari to calm the fears of the Christian leaders who were urging Christians to reject the constitution because of misplaced fears over Sharia. “We should read and understand the draft,” said Dr Gitari. “There is a lot of sharia phobia in the Christian church. More than 80 per cent of Kenyans are Christians. There is no way 20 per cent can push their way over everybody. - Daily Nation, 7th July 2010.”
Dr Gitari reference to Sharia phobia is perhaps most apt considering that Christian religious leaders are also plagued by another phobia - the gay phobia. Yet Sharia is quite extreme when applied to homosexuals. “Death is the only punishment prescribed by Islam for such people as done in China and Iran. We urge our government to consider allowing us to use such methods to deal with the dehumanising acts,” Sheikh Khalifa told reporters on the sidelines of an anti-homosexuality workshop yesterday.
Sheikh Khalifa however needs to be reminded that China unlike Kenya does not have laws criminalising homosexuality having repealed them in 1997. Moreover statement by the Chinese Psychiatric Association in 2001, endorsed the view that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality. In Kenya however not only is homosexuality criminalised, but the Kenya Psychiatric Association, the expert body which should guide the Kenyan public on such matters, has consistently ignored pleas from activists to give an expert medical opinion.
As a result the Kenyan public is not only ill informed on these issues, but are also prone to taking up the religious leaders views that equates gay people with paedophiles. Yet equating gays with paedophiles is unfortunate and unhelpful. Paedophilia is about abusing children and is both heterosexual and homosexual. Paedophiles especially those in positions of authority over children must be punished severely. Gays on the other hand are about consensual acts among adults - children are unable to make informed consent, hence any act with them, whether of a homosexual or heterosexual nature is to be roundly condemned.
Given however the universal hatred that both the Muslim and Christian clerics have against gays, it will be interesting to see if the Christians will allow the application of Sharia law against gays in Kenya.
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