On Dec. 10, Kenyans and people around the world will commemorate International Human Rights Day. This day is marked every December 10th on the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.

The work of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya resonates with this year’s theme, which is Defend someone’s rights today! International Human Rights Day presents an opportunity to reflect on the strides we have made on the promotion and protection of human rights as a society. The day is also an opportunity to recommit to expanding the scope of human rights guarantees for all.

In Kenya, challenges still exist in the protection and promotion of human rights on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE). SOGIE Kenyans continue to suffer from violence and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Worryingly, a great deal of this violence and discrimination is instigated by political and religious leaders who make hateful comments against sexual and gender minorities in the country.

The problems faced by the SOGIE community in Kenya are in no way unique: many Kenyans continue to face discrimination because of their gender, age, background, ethnicity, and status in society.

In keeping with this year’s theme, we call upon our fellow Kenyans to defend the rights all persons, regardless of any ground, including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

We call upon the Kenyan government to repeal laws that criminalize adult, consensual, and private sexual conduct between persons of the same sex. We also call for reforms to laws that hinder the lives of the SOGIE community including archaic laws on the registration of births that create legal difficulties for members of the intersex community.

 Together, let’s take action for greater freedoms, stronger respect and more compassion.