Africa / Americas

Obama in Kenya: ‘Treat people equally under the law’

President Obama meets Willliam Ruto, deputy president of Kenya, during Obama's visit to Nairobi. Ruto he is being tried at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. In May,  he stated that in Kenya, In May, Deputy President William Ruto told a church congregation that in Kenya “we have no room for gays.

President Obama meets Willliam Ruto, deputy president of Kenya, during Obama’s visit to Nairobi. Ruto is being tried at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. In May, Ruto stated that in Kenya, “we have no room for gays.” (Photo courtesy of Daily Nation)

The Washington Blade reports:

President Obama [today] discussed LGBT rights during a press conference in Nairobi with his Kenyan counterpart.

“With respect to the rights of gays and lesbians, I’ve been consistent all across Africa on this,” said Obama in response to a question from Reuters reporter Jeff Mason about Kenya’s LGBT rights record. “I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law. And they are deserving of equal treatment under the law and the state should not discriminate based on their sexual orientation.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Photo courtesy of Africom.com)

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Photo courtesy of Africom.com)

Mason asked Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta the same question.

“For Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” said Kenyatta to audible applause during the press conference that took place at State House in Nairobi. “We really want to focus on other areas that are day-to-day living for people.”

The press conference took place a day after Obama’s arrival in Nairobi amid calls that he not discuss LGBT rights while in Kenya.

Kenya’s Daily Nation and the Los Angeles Times published slightly different versions of the Obama and Kenyatta statements:

Obama (quoted in the Daily Nation):

“I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law.

“I say that while recognising that people have different religious and cultural beliefs.

“When a government starts treating people differently, that habit starts to spread.”

Obama (quoted in the Los Angeles Times):

“When you start treating people differently, not because of any harm they’re doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen.”

Kenyatta (quoted in the Daily Nation):

“Gay issues are a non-issues and that’s a fact.

“There are things we don’t share. We cannot impose on people what they don’t accept.

“We share a lot of things but gay issues are not among them.

“The health issues we have discussed are critical. Once we are done with that, we can then focus on those other issues.

Kenyatta (quoted in the Los Angeles Times):

“There are some things we must admit we don’t share, [that] our culture, our societies don’t accept. It’s very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.”

For more information, read the full articles in the Washington Blade, “Obama highlights LGBT rights during Kenya press conference,”  the Daily Nation’s minute-by-minute coverage of Obama’s visit and the Los Angeles Times article, “The tense exchange between Obama and Kenya’s president on gay rights.”

18 thoughts on “Obama in Kenya: ‘Treat people equally under the law’

  1. Pingback: All mouth, no muscle — anti-gay party in Kenya | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: Anglican Church of Kenya conducts anti-gay purge | 76 CRIMES

  3. Pingback: Suspended Kenyan priest: I am not homosexual | 76 CRIMES

  4. Pingback: Parishioners back Kenyan priest accused of homosexuality | 76 CRIMES

  5. Pingback: An appeal to end attacks on LGBT people on Kenya’s coast | 76 CRIMES

  6. Pingback: Kenyan leader speaks against anti-gay violence | 76 CRIMES

  7. Pingback: 3 ousted priests sue Church of Kenya over gay charges | 76 CRIMES

  8. Pingback: After Kenyan anti-gay sermons, anti-gay rape and arson | 76 CRIMES

  9. Pingback: Intersex in Kenya: Held captive, beaten, hacked. Dead. | 76 CRIMES

  10. Pingback: Rejected in Kenya: Held captive, beaten, hacked. Dead. | 76 CRIMES

  11. Pingback: ‘Nightmare’ for gay refugees in Kenya | 76 CRIMES

  12. Pingback: Grim future for LGBT refugees in Kenya? | 76 CRIMES

  13. Pingback: Kenyan judge: Homosexuality will eventually be accepted here | 76 CRIMES

  14. Pingback: Valentine’s Day attack injures 4 gay men in Nairobi slum | 76 CRIMES

  15. Pingback: Kenyan police rescue gay couple from mob, do nothing more | 76 CRIMES

  16. Pingback: Church leaders plotted attacks on 2 lesbians — their daughters | 76 CRIMES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s