Sexuality Policy Watch

A Historic Win For Our Grantee Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA)

Press Release
24th July 2014
For Immediate Release

Transgender Group in Kenya wins Historic Court Battle

Nairobi, Kenya, 24 July, 2014. – In a historic court battle lasting three years, Urgent Action Fund–Africa (UAF–Africa) grantee, Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA) has been handed a landmark victory in Kenya’s high court. After being denied the right to register as an NGO, the organisation working for transgender rights sued the Kenyan NGO Co-ordination board for discrimination and violation of their fundamental human rights. The group had previously been denied permission to register by the Kenyan NGO Co-ordination Board because three transgender women listed in the application – Audrey Mbugua, Maureen Muia and Annet Jennifer – did not have names that “reflected their gender.”

On 24th July 2014, Justice George Odunga stated that in failing to register TEA, the Kenyan NGO Co-ordination board had acted in a manner that is “unfair, unreasonable, unjustified and in breach of rules of natural justice.” He further found that Ms Mbugua, Ms Muia and Ms Jennifer had provided sufficient evidence that they had legally changed their names via deed poll. The Kenyan NGO Co-ordination board has been ordered to register the organisation immediately and provide compensation for legal costs incurred over the three year-long legal battle.

Audrey Mbugua welcomed the ruling, stating “This is a watershed moment for the transgender community in Africa and a show of the capabilities of the transgender community to extricate themselves from State sponsored discrimination and marginalization. Through the support of UAF-Africa, a team of dedicated legal practitioners and transgender people we won a very hard battle and the TEA will continue to exert more effort to see the implementation of the judgment. We pray that transgender people across Africa will be able to access more resources to build firm architectures to eradicate transphobia and discrimination. “

Despite todays win, across Africa, the battle to secure LGBTI rights continues. Transgender individuals in Kenya, and across much of the African continent face systematic and extreme legal and societal hardships making it difficult for them to, amongst other issues, have their names changed on legal documents including educational qualifications and seek medical support during and after their transition resulting in extreme poverty, ill-health and social exclusion. Although there is little research on the legal status, economic and social well-being of transgendered individuals on the African continent, TEAs win not only sets a precedent for other marginalised groups seeking recognition in Kenya, but sets a timely example for the entire region.

UAF-Africa is a consciously feminist and women’s human rights pan-African Fund. As the first rapid response Fund on the continent, UAF-Africa supports lesbian and transgendered women claiming their sexual citizenship by challenging discrimination and prejudice. Ndana Bofu-Tawamba, Executive Director of UAF-Africa stated, “This court ruling is not only instructive and precedent setting as to how the judiciary should approach such issues, it is a breath of fresh air and an absolutely clear message to countless marginalised communities that it takes courage and conviction to pursue what is rightfully within our latitude of human rights. Today, at Urgent Action Fund-Africa we celebrate with TEA on this landmark delivery of social justice and become even more strengthened to pursue human rights for ALL with URGENT vigor.”

For more information contact:

Fareen Walji
Programmes Manager
Urgent Action Fund-Africa
Tel: +255 756 560 610

Tooni Akanni
Communications and Knowledge Management Officer
Urgent Action Fund–Africa
Tel: +234 705 176 7625

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