Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Peter Kimani

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Nyakundi Nyamboga


Graduate School of Media and Communications


The coverage of sexual minority groups like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community by print media, tends to raise multiple legal and ethical questions for journalists in Kenya. This study sought to identify and explain the legal and ethical guidelines for print media journalists in Kenya, as well as the factors that influence journalists’ ethical decisions. These decisions are subject to legal restrictions, professional ethics, personal values, religious and cultural bias. This raises ethical and legal debates for journalists since a democratic society and free media – both of which are billed as cornerstones of Kenya’s constitution – uphold the voicing of personal and divergent opinions. How then do we eliminate perceived bias? The following were the objectives of the study: to establish the ethical and legal issues that emerged in the print media’s coverage of the petition by the LGBT to have sections 162 and 165 of the penal code repealed to decriminalise homosexuality in Kenya, to determine the ethical decisions and legal considerations by Kenyan print media journalists when covering LGBT topics and individuals, and to evaluate how journalists deal with ethical and legal issues that emerge when reporting on LGBT. The study adopted a mixed method approach in which both quantitative and qualitative data was collected. Because the study only sampled Nairobi- based court reporters and editors, a random sample of 25 journalists was drawn from the four mainstream newspapers in Kenya and the weekly The Nairobian. Quantitative data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire, that was administered to 25 journalists, while qualitative data was collected through interviews with three key informants The findings of the study indicate that objectivity, fair coverage, religious bias, cultural bias, and personal bias are the main ethical issues that emerged during the coverage of the LGBT case. The legal issues that emerged in the coverage of the case were the right to privacy, human rights and dignity, discrimination, coverage of an issue that is illegal, seeking of consent from LGBT subjects and exposure to defamation and libel. The journalists indicated that though they might be influenced by religious, cultural, and personal biases, they deal with emerging ethical and legal issues by referring to their in- house editorial policies, the Media Council of Kenya code of conduct and their training in media law and ethics.