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.”
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.
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.”
- William Ruto meets US President Barack Obama (nation.co.ke)
- Homosexuality Will Never Be Eliminated. How About Eliminating Homophobia? (Human Rights Watch)
- Anti-gay Kenyans fear upcoming Obama visit (76crimes.com)
- Kenya buzzing with anti-gay worries as it awaits Obama’s visit (76crimes.com)
- Obama: one of many opposed to Kenya’s anti-gay policies (76crimes.com)