Willy Mutunga has impeccable credentials.
He graduated from the Osgoode Hall Law School at York
University and obtained law degrees from the University of Dar es Salaam
in Tanzania. He has worked with the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the
Ford Foundation and is a senior counsel and advocate at the High Court of
On May 13, the Kenyan Judicial Service Commission announced Mutunga as their top choice of nominees to the position of chief justice.
So why has Mutunga’s nomination caused such a storm?
The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation says it is
because Mutunga wears a stud in his left ear. Apparently the stud means he is gay and therefore not fit to be
appointed to the highest judicial position in the country.
Mutunga has defended his earring, saying that the choice to
wear it is based on his spiritual beliefs and not his sexual
On June 7, Mutunga and the nominee for deputy chief justice, Nancy Barasa, appeared before Parliament’s Constitution
Implementation Oversight Committee.
According to the Daily Nation they were questioned about their views on abortion, divorce and
Mutunga was blunt: “I am not gay. Having said that, let me
say that I don’t discriminate against gay people.”
Barasa sat on the fence about her support for gays, saying
that “Those who say I’m supporting them [gays and lesbians] are jumping the
gun. I have gone into the unknown. I have no findings yet.”
She also injected some humour into the proceedings when she
denied allegations that she is a lesbian.
“I’m not a lesbian. If I were a lesbian, there are some very
good friends of mine in this room, [and] I would have dated them.”