The Commission continuously and tirelessly works towards legal and policy reforms to ensure full inclusion of sexual and gender minorities in Kenya. In this regard, we undertake, among other things; university debates, lectures and competitions under our Advocacy and Engagement program in a continuous attempt to change prevailing attitudes on diversity in Kenya.
Born from a conversation between Our Team and our young constituents, the Intervarsity Moot Court Competitions seek to discover where young students stand in regards to sexual and gender minority rights vis-a-vis the national, regional and international law. The Commission also seeks to leverage on this opportunity as a learning experience for the young students.
On 23rd and 24th June 2022, The Commission conducted its 5TH SOGIE-SC Intervarsity Moot Court Competition in partnership with Moi University School of Law, Annex Eldoret. The Moot Court Competition had participants from four institutions: Moi University School of Law, Egerton University, Kisii University, and the University of Nairobi – Kisumu Campus. The young law students were engaged in pertinent discussions on the right to equality and non-discrimination for ITGNC persons with a hypothetical case of the lived realities of transgender persons in Kenya. The attendees were later engaged in a panel discussion on the lived realities of LGBTQIA+ persons in Kenya, the legal framework, and their role as young upcoming legal practitioners in advancing and promoting the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons in Kenya. The University of Nairobi scooped the Best Memorial 2022, Kisii University scooped the award for the Best Team, and Moses Harman from The University of Nairobi -Kisumu Campus took home the award for Best Orator 2022.
In 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted the first physical moot court competition in partnership with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology School of Law – Karen Campus on 23rd October 2021. In keeping with its fundamental agenda to enhance access to justice for LGBTQ+ persons, and promote and protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities within the Kenyan democracy, the fourth edition explored The Right to family – Adoption for LGBTQ+ persons. The Moot Court Competition strictly adhered to the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 guidelines. There were 20 participants in teams from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology School of Law, Kenyatta University School of Law and Nairobi University School of Law. The winning team from The University of Nairobi School of Law made points that demonstrated a sound understanding of SOGIE-SC rights.
From 1st to 4th October 2019, the Commission had its 3rd SOGIE-SC Intervarsity Debate & Moot Court Competitions. The competitions were hosted by Moi University School of Law in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. The moot court competition focused on the freedom of expression and artistic creativity among other lived realities of LGBTQIA+ persons in Kenya. The debate question touched on access to services for ITGNC persons without any discrimination. The competition had five(5) universities in attendance namely: Kenyatta University School of Law, Kisii University, University of Nairobi,Jommo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Moi University Annex that we partnered with this year to host the competition. We had five(5) debate teams and four (4) moot teams participate each team had three (3) participants each, we had a total of twenty seven (27) students who actively took part in the competition. However we had a total of fifty (50) participants in attendance.
In 2018, the 2nd SOGIE-SC Human Rights Moot Court Competition was held on 18th and 19th of October in Nairobi. This edition explored labour practices in Kenya vis-a-vis the lived experiences of sexual and gender minorities in the workplace. Over the past few decades, remarkable strides have been made in promoting equality in the workplace, particularly from a gendered perspective. With regards to policy and practice towards LGBTQ+ individuals, however, notable gaps worldwide and locally have been observed. Of particular import is the criminalization of consensual adult same sex conduct in over 72 countries worldwide, at least 33 of which are African. These laws impede states’ ability to proffer real protections for their LGBTQ+ citizens. Though limited, current research unequivocally shows that this affects the realization of their human rights and, specifically in this context, their socio-economic rights. Kenya’s 2010 Constitution heralded a new era of fundamental protections under its extensive Bill of rights.
Further, national values and principles of governance crucially include non-discrimination, inclusiveness, equality, and the rule of law, social justice, human rights and protection of the marginalized. Questions such as the adequacy of the law’s protection, the deficiency in labor policy and practices, as well as the relevance of judicial precedents to this issue were tackled. Participants prepared legal arguments on the topic and competed before a 3 judge bench in the preliminaries and a five-judge bench in the finals. The Moi University team won the 2018 edition There were 75 participants from 7 law schools across the country who attended the moot court competition. The participants were from the University of Nairobi, Kisii University, Moi University, Egerton University, Kenyatta University, Riara University and Strathmore University. The 2nd edition of the SOGIE-SC Debate Competition was held on April 2oth 2018 at Kisii University. This was an unprecedented partnership between NGLHRC and a university. It was a breakthrough as NGLHRC had been trying to get institutional backing of universities in the application of this program in order to engage more with students and lecturers. This was also a way to actively involve the institutions in inclusivity of LGBTQ+ issues within the courses. The partnership has been fruitful and in 2019, Kisii University partnered with The Eagles for Life, a local Civil Society Organization in Kisii to host a moot and debate Competition. The debate question tackled issues of health services in Kenya. Despite having express rights to the highest attainable health and reproductive health levels under Article 43 of the constitution and international treaties, reports indicate many LGBTQ+ people constantly struggle with medical issues. Intersex people in particular require medical care that is often unavailable or unaittainable in Kenya. medical institutions perform ‘corrective’ surgeries on intersex infants effectively choosing a sex and gender for the child in a process that robs these children of their agency. The debate question challenged the participants to discuss these surgeries’ legal and medical implications within the Kenyan context. The competition engaged approximately 79 students interacting with the program, up from approximately 36 students in 2017.
The Annual SOGIE -SC Interversity Debate Competition is a one of it’s kind Annual convening of University delegates in Kenya that specifically spotlights LGBTQ+ rights.
The debates are innovatively structured in contests and discussions that bring out solutions to legal gaps around legal protections for LGBTQ+ persons.
Further the debates adopt the panel methodology which is an advocacy stategy to provide the university delegates with indepth information around LGBTQ+ legal and justice needs as well as debunking of myths.
The outstanding winners who put forth sound discourse are awarded by a panel of judges who are picked from a pool of seasoned Queer human right defenders and academics with expertise around LGBTQ+ rights.
University Public Lectures
The Commission engages intelligent, willful and innovative young legal minds from different institutions on aspects that involve the law, human rights and issues that affect sexual and gender minorities; posing this against a backdrop of popular morality, strong cultural beliefs and a colonial history. The Commission attempts to achieve greater influence, because such young minds are the future of developing further jurisprudence with regard to sexual and gender minority issues. These partnerships allow students to participate in talks and conversations concerning sexual and gender minorities and the law in lectures concerning human rights. The Commission partnered with Laikipia University on 14th and 15th August 2021 and conducted a public university lecture with 35 students on access to justice for vulnerable groups. Further, The Commission conducted a session in partnership with KMUN ON 27th November 2021 on the right to equality and non-discrimination for all with 300+ students drawn from various higher learning institutions.