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Couple May Be First Kenyan-Born to Wed

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A same-sex couple who registered their civil partnership in London last week are believed to be the first gay Kenyans to do so in the U.K. Charles Ngengi, 40, and Daniel Chege Gichia, 39, who each immigrated from Kenya, wed in London on Saturday, October 17.

The couple had a closely guarded, 30-minute ceremony with 50 guests at the Islington Town Hall in North London, according to the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper. Gichia's ex-boyfriend David Cleaves and Tanzanian gay model Julius Reuben attended the ceremony. Other guests included close associates and well-wishers, but no immediate family members.

Ngengi and Gichia wore matching suits, one cream and the other metallic, and black shoes. After the ceremony the registrar declared, "It gives me great pleasure to officially pronounce you civil partners."

Ngengi recently moved to the United Kingdom in June after a long-distance relationship with Gichia. Gichia moved to North London in the 1990s as a auxiliary hospital nurse. The couple now lives in a one bedroom flat in Finsbury Park.

In Kenya, though the law is not strictly enforced, engaging in gay sexual activity is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Sex between women is not mentioned in the law. Most gay men in Kenya live double lives. Former Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi said in 2006, "Homosexuality is against African norms and traditions, even in religion it is considered a great sin, Kenya has no room for homosexuals and lesbians."

Galebitra, a gay and lesbian rights organization in Kenya, is working to fight discrimination and harassment in the country. The coordinator for Galebitra, known as Jeremy, said in a 2006 article for the African news website News 24, "Without massive protests and gay people coming out, standing up for what they want, the government will continue disowning us."

The Civil Partnership Act of 2005 defines civil partnerships to be legal marriages between same-sex couples. No form of religious activity is allowed during the civil partnership registration, which is administered by the registrar.

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