Killer of Kenyan lesbian sentenced to 30 years

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The Case of Billington Wambui Mwathi and Its Impact on LGBTQ+ Rights

Background of the Case :
In April 2022, Billington Wambui Mwathi was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a Kenyan court for the murder of Sheila Lumumba, a non-binary lesbian. The case, particularly significant within the LGBTQ+ community, was marked by CCTV footage that showed Mwathi with Lumumba on the night of her murder. Mwathi’s subsequent guilty plea sparked considerable reactions.

Reaction from LGBTQ+ Activists :
LGBTQ+ rights activists, both in Kenya and across Africa, have voiced their dissatisfaction with the sentence, considering it too lenient given the crime’s severity. They have been advocating for the expedited arrest and stricter punishment for those involved in Lumumba’s murder.

Family and Community’s Perspective :
Lumumba’s family had sought a sentence of at least 50 years, aligning with the gravity of their loss. Local LGBTQ+ organizations, while acknowledging the verdict, felt that the 30-year sentence was insufficient for delivering justice.

Statements from LGBTQ+ Rights Organizations :
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), Galck+ (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya), and the Initiative for Equality and Non Discrimination (INEND) issued a joint statement. They expressed deep disappointment, stating that the sentence did not adequately reflect the crime’s severity or the justice Sheila Lumumba deserved. They highlighted the murder as an attack on the dignity and safety of the entire LGBTIQ+ community.

Call for Justice and Equality :
These organizations emphasized their commitment to advocate for a society where justice is equitable and free from prejudice. They stressed the importance of ensuring freedom, safety, and equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. They urged the judicial system and society to recognize and protect the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community.

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Context of LGBTQ+ Rights in Kenya :
This case highlights ongoing challenges for LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya. Despite legal progress, such as the Kenyan Supreme Court upholding LGBTQ+ organizations’ registration, the community continues to face attacks and protests. Same-sex relations remain illegal in Kenya, complicating the fight for LGBTQ+ recognition and rights.

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