By Vincent Agoya
The Transgender Education & Advocacy (TEA) is now a registered international NGO working to promote the rights of all transgender people, a trial court in Nairobi, Kenya, has been told.
This brings to  settlement a protracted legal battle by members of the organisation  who bore the brunt of discrimination and violations of human rights and have been seeking recognition in the country.
They had moved to court on account of  the NGO’s board refusal to register the advocacy group.
First African state
Kenya now becomes the first state to register a transgender organisation in Africa.
 TEA is now mandated to undertake activities that will empower transgender people with skills so as to enable them make their contributions to the social, economic and political spheres in Kenya.
“We urge the government of  Kenya to work with us to find solutions to intolerance, ignorance of the transgender concept and eradicating poverty among gender minorities. We hope that this gesture portends a future where such collaborations will flourish and Kenya will be more accommodating to those undergoing sex change,” TEA’s Audrey Mbugua said.
Gesture portends a  future 
“We hope that this gesture portends a future where such collaborations will flourish and Kenya will be more accommodating to those undergoing sex change,” she added.
Justice George Odunga had ordered the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) coordination board to register the  advocacy group in a landmark ruling but the board had been dragging its feet forcing TEA to lodge a complaint for contempt.
The judge  criticised the board saying the  refusal to register the group “amounted to a failure in discharging statutory functions and mandate and was unfair, unreasonable, unjustified and in breach of rules of natural justice.”

He also ordered the board to compensate Ms Audrey Mbugua, Ms Maureen Muia and Ms Annet Jennifer the cost of the three-year litigation.

Gender orientation

The judge said the Constitution upheld the individuals’ rights to assembly and cannot be deterred on grounds of gender orientation.

When the matter came up before the judge on February 22 2017 a lawyer holding brief for Colbert Ojiambo reassured the judge that “the matter had been settled.”

“We got a call from the respondent that they have complied and we confirmed that indeed they have issued a registration certificate,” the lawyer said.

The judge then marked the case file as “settled.”

The board had initially argued that it could not recognise the group’s members since the names they had submitted for registration were not the ones reflecting their gender.

However, the judge overruled the argument stating that there was  evidence that Ms Mbugua and her colleagues had indeed changed their names through a deed poll they annexed in the suit papers.

The judge said the premise of gender cannot be used to deny registration. (see certificate of registration below)

“A public authority cannot be allowed to get away with discriminatory actions that deny persons their rights of assembly which is a clear abuse of the power bestowed on such an authority,” the justice Odunga wrote.

He said the reasons advanced for refusing to register the advocacy group had no legal basis and were unreasonable.

Ms Audrey, formerly Andrew Ithibu Mbugua, has been battling for recognition as a transsexual.

She has also won a  separate case in which she had  the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec)compelled  to change the gender designation in her certificates on the grounds that the male identity has rendered her unemployable.