Kenya's High Court has postponed until May 24 a ruling on whether to strike out or uphold a colonial-era law banning gay sex, a judge said. Picture: Reuters/Baz Ratner

Nairobi - Kenya's High Court has postponed until May 24 a ruling on whether to strike out or uphold a colonial-era law banning gay sex, a judge said on Friday.

Judge Chacha Mwita told a packed court in the capital, Nairobi, that the bench constituted to hear the case needed more time to prepare for the ruling.

Kenya arrested 534 people for same-sex relationships between 2013 and 2017, the government said. Kenya's high court began hearings on the law last year.

Campaigners say the colonial-era law violates Kenya's progressive 2010 constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy for all citizens. They also submitted arguments based on India’s rejection of a similar law in August.

Decriminalisation won't stop prejudice, but it should end arrests and blackmail, and help rein in assaults and rapes if gay Kenyans no longer fear police, said the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of the petitioners against the law.

The commission has recorded more than 1 500 such attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Kenyans since 2014.

Many Christian and Muslim groups support the law, and the attorney general has argued decriminalising gay sex could lead to legalising same-sex marriage.

"A gay lifestyle is a threat to our culture and the common good," said Charles Kanjama, a lawyer for the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum.

Reuters