Gays have rights, but cannot marry – DCJ nominee
They are protected by the Constitution and are free to choose their lifestyle, judge Mwilu says
Although same sex marriages are outlawed by the Constitution, the rights of gay people are protected, Deputy Chief Justice nominee Philomena Mwilu has said.
She spoke before the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee yesterday, when the team vetted her.
Mwilu said that gay people have freedom of choice.
“For me to answer the question about gayism, I would have to know whether gayism is a matter of choice or it is an in-born situation. As a matter of choice and association, gay people are protected by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, but not marriage,” she said.
Mwilu has also tackled the issue of injunctions which the executive, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, has accused the judiciary of using to frustrate development.
She said all cases on injunctions must be handled independently and issued on merit, but also said judges should expedite the cases.
“The independence of a judge’s decisions cannot be touched, but I would encourage them to hear cases on merit. No judge, not even the Chief Justice, can interfere with the independence of another judge,” Mwilu told the MPs.
She added that there must be a conscious effort by all arms of government to cooperate and consult on all matters affecting the public.
“The judiciary is independent in its mandate, but it must have constructive interdependence with other arms [of government],” Mwilu said.
She said that her priority as DCJ will be to ensure the judiciary has a conducive working environment for judges.
“We have a performance programme in the judiciary. We are going to strengthen what has already been established,” Mwilu said.
The judge also said there appears to be a disconnect in personal relationships among Supreme Court judges but not in ideology.
Justice Mwilu said she supports the Chief Justice in urging the judiciary to engage alternative dispute resolution methods to avoid unnecessary cases in the courts. “If people are forced to sit under a mediator through arbitration most cases would be dealt with quickly,” she said.
Mwilu has survived in the judiciary by being firm, as being a woman judge is a challenge in itself, she says.
“I have had instances where men have wondered why I was their senior, but the only way to dislodge me was through merit,” the judge said.
Mwilu said it is only the Chief Justice’s term that is limited to 10 years by the Constitution.
“By the time I finish serving as DCJ, I’ll have another 12 years or so remaining to serve as a judge in the Supreme Court,” she said.