A strange but affirming situation is happening over in Kenya.
While the African nation’s highest court chose not to decriminalize gay sex, the country is willing to acknowledge the complexities of gender.
According to Kenya’s Capital News, the country has started the process of adopting intersex identity into law to recognize a third or non-binary gender system. This new system is being created to acknowledge and support the estimated 700,000 intersex, transgender, and non-binary people living in Kenya.
This new marker and change to national law was introduced to the bureau in December of last year after years of lobbying by the intersex people and co. They say that they’ve been denied basic services like registering for a bank account, being forced to register as male or female, or not getting proper medical insurance coverage. This has resulted in negative effects like a high school dropout rate and high suicidal rates due to stigma.
One benefit of this new policy change will be that the government can have factual data on intersex people. According to Jedediah Waruhiu, the commissioner for the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), “This will help the Government while planning on health, education and even on the employment sector.”
“The inclusion of intersex persons is a culmination of over 12 years of public interest litigation, public awareness, advocacy and dialogue with both the state and non-state institutions and actors,” she added.
Kenya joins several other countries that have legally acknowledged a third gender or non-binary citizens such as Thailand, Germany, Australia, India, Canada, and more. As for the United States, there is currently no federal rule on having a non-binary gender. That said, several states within the country have introduced a third gender option for its citizens, such as California, Maryland, Oregon, New York, Washington D.C., and more.
Looks like in one way Kenya is behind the U.S. in LGBTQ policy. But in another way, the nation just took a step ahead.