The LGBTQ+ community in Kenya is facing yet another proposed law that aims to restrict their rights. Lawmakers in Nairobi are preparing to vote on a bill that would specifically prohibit gay and lesbian people from being able to form their families via surrogacy.
The 2019 “Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill” passed through the Kenyan National Assembly last November. The bill seeks to assist individuals, including intersex people or couples unable to bear children due to infertility, to find surrogate mothers.
However, Members of Kenya’s Parliament amended the bill so instead of saying “husband and wife,” it says “couple,” which, under Kenyan law, refers only to a male and a female who are legally considered married.
If the bill passes, any gay or lesbian or same-sex couple found guilty of attempting to access or accessing surrogacy will risk a fine of up to Sh5 million ($50,000) or a jail term of not more than five years, or both, according to Clause 23 of the bill.
The proposed law would also criminalize making money from surrogacy, meaning surrogate mothers in Kenya could no longer carry pregnancies for any individual or couple whose infertility has not been proven by a doctor.
Despite pressure from advocacy groups and Western countries, like many African nations, Kenya has long refused to recognize the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Kenyan Penal Code already criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations, which are viewed as “acts of indecency or unnatural offenses,” and it forbids gays and lesbians from adopting children.
In 2015, during a joint press conference with the then-U.S. President Obama, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reinforced the nation’s stance, saying that while Kenya “shares a lot with the U.S., gay rights were not among them.”
The Assisted Reproductive Technology bill is expected to come up for debate on February 8th, when the Kenyan Senate reconvenes. The president would sign it if it passes, according to the Los Angeles Blade.