Gay rights is a non-issue for Kenyans – Kenyatta tells Obama

Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta has told US President Barack Obama, that issues of gay rights are not of importance to Kenyans as the country focuses on dealing with pressing developmental issues.

The diplomatic remark is clearly at variance with the position of Barack Obama, an ardent supporter of gay rights, who celebrated the US Supreme Court ruling that endorsed same sex marriage in a 5-4 vote recently.

The two leaders were addressing an international press conference at State House Nairobi, following a two hour round of bilateral talks that were attended by senior government officials of both countries.

President Obama who is in the country on three-day visit, reiterated his position that same sex relationships discriminated against and the actors given respect and recognition.

“When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode,” Obama said at a joint press conference with the Kenyan leader in Nairobi. “And bad things happen. Take for instance someone who obeys all the laws in a country, is working hard to grow the economy by promptly paying all his bills and taxes on time, needs not be discriminated against because of whom he or she chooses to love,” Obama said.


But in a rather disparaging view, President Kenyatta stated that the subject of homosexual rights is a “non issue” for Kenyans.

“The fact of the matter is Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families — these are some things that we share,” Kenyatta said. “But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share. Our culture, our societies don’t accept.”

“It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept,” Kenyatta continued.
 “This is why I repeatedly say for Kenyans today the (gay rights issue) is generally a non-issue. We want to focus on other areas. America is one of  Kenya’s biggest partners and there are several things that we agree to working together on several matters including health, construction of roads and security. When we exhaust most of these issues, then we can consider moving on and discussing other matters” Kenyatta said.

Homosexual rights subject has been a contentious subject in Kenya, and most parts of Africa, with political leaders, including Deputy President William Ruto and Parliament’s majority leader Aden Duale, being vocal proponents in the campaign against the practice.

Under Kenyan law, sexual activity between men is illegal and punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 14 years.

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