why I want gays stoned to death- Onwong’a Nyakeriga
He goes to church every Saturday like every Seventh Day Adventist is expected to.
Mr Nyakeriga neither takes alcohol nor smokes.
He is a liberal Adventist, though, and doesn’t mind having a cup of tea in the course of the day.
He has therefore not wandered the streets at night or been in a bar or in a place where he could interact with a homosexual. Neither does he know any gay individual in person.
However, the 49-year-old father of two — a young boy and a girl — has a faint recollection of a girl from Mogweko Village in Nyaribari Masaba — for that is where he comes from — who was expelled from secondary school on suspicion of being a lesbian.
That is the closest he has ever come to knowing a person of that sexual orientation. But Mr Nyakeriga is the man behind the controversial proposal to introduce death by public stoning for homosexuals.
One evening last February, recalls Mr Nyakeriga, he was watching the news on television with friends from the Republican Liberty Party when they saw openly gay men and women protesting in the streets of Nairobi against Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill.
On Thursday last week, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi passed to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Mr Nyakeriga’s petition accompanied by a draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
‘EXPRESSION OF THE ROT’
When they saw the protesters on TV, Mr Nyakeriga told the Nation on Tuesday, they wondered what the families of the openly gay men and women would think of them.
“It was an expression of the rot and where we are headed as a society and if there is no deterrence, the society will be very rotten,” he recalls thinking.
The most radical proposal in the Bill is reserved for foreigners, who Mr Nyakeriga wants “subjected to death by stoning in public,” if convicted of sodomy.
Mr Nyakeriga told the Nation this extreme and highly unusual form of punishment be reserved for foreigners because, in his thinking, homosexuality is not an African practice and has been introduced by unsavoury elements.
“Whoever wants to bring it sees Kenya as a dumping ground. Ours is an expression of extreme deterrence,” he said.
“From the kind of interaction and exposure we have, we hear of these things,” he said.
He is emphatic that he is only the drafter of the Bill; the ideas belong to the Republican Liberty Party, a fringe political party without a single Member of Parliament, Governor or notable presence in any County Assembly.
Stoning is a rare and cruel form of punishment applied only in places where extreme forms of Islam are practised such as Al-Shabaab strongholds.
When, earlier this year, Nigeria’s Boko Haram were reported to have stoned one of the girls they kidnapped, the authenticity of an accompanying video was questioned because it looked like an earlier one from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab.
But according to Mr Nyakeriga, “if Parliament is to amend anything, that clause should not be touched because it expresses our preferred extreme measure for deterrence.”
All other offences under the Bill — homosexuality, aggravated homosexuality, attempt to commit homosexuality, abetting homosexuality, procuring for homosexuality, detention with intent to commit homosexuality and brothels — attract life imprisonment.
Mr Nyakeriga said he has some legal training and a Master’s in Communication Studies and is well aware of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
Still, he does not expect a backlash from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, which considers Kenya friendlier to gays than Uganda, which made them confident enough to hold a protest in the streets.
“Their rights are not in isolation. Whoever drafted the Constitution knows that rights are practised in society. You cannot spoil that society in which you are. You cannot dilute its morals,” said Mr Nyakeriga.
His idea is to protect his four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter when they are no longer under his protection and care.
“I’ll not be the watchman to my daughter and son wherever they go so we need a law to do that,” he said.
Mr Irungu Kangata, the Kiharu MP and leader of Parliament’s anti-gay caucus, says that while he is “100 per cent anti-gay” the proposed penalties are out of sync with modern thinking.
He said the new ideas are to have lawbreakers counselled and rehabilitated unless they have been involved in violent crime.
“You must also ask yourself why you are punishing that person. You are punishing that person with a view of changing them and to deter. You don’t cure anything by celebrating the suffering of that person,” said Mr Kangata.
“I belong to the school of thought that homosexuality is a crime, but here the debate is what the penalty should be. There I depart with those who want a harsh one,” said Mr Kangata.