NAIROBI, Kenya — During a press conference on Saturday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected calls from Barack Obama to give greater attention to the homosexual agenda.
“We want to focus on other areas that are day-to-day living for our people,” Kenyatta said in response to Obama’s comments about the matter. “This issue is not on the foremost mind of Kenya—and that is a fact.”
Some leaders in Kenya had urged Obama not to push advocacy for homosexuality on the country during his visit, with some threatening to protest his appearance if he did so.
“We want to warn Obama to steer clear of any comments on same-sex marriages during his visit,” Bishop Mark Kariuki told reporters earlier this week. “Any attempts will lead to a call for mass demonstrations across the country and disrupt his meeting.”
“Anybody who tries to come and preach to this country that they should allow homosexuality, I think he’s totally lost,” added lawmaker Jamleck Kamau. “And I would also like to add, our son from the U.S., Barack Obama, when he comes here, [should] simply avoid that topic completely because Kenyans will not be happy with him if he comes to bring the issue of homosexuality in this country.”
But Obama did speak about homosexuality during his visit to the country this weekend, discussing the issue during a joint press conference with Kenyatta at the Kenyan State House. He had been asked by a foreign reporter to expound on his beliefs about the matter.
“I’ve been consistent all across Africa on this. I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law and they are deserving of equal protection under the law,” Obama said. “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.”
“As an African-American in the U.S., I am painfully aware of the history when people are treated differently under the law,” he continued. “If somebody is a law abiding citizen who is going about their business and working in a job and obeying the traffic signs and doing all the other things that good citizens are supposed to do and not harming anybody, the idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong.”
Kenyatta, now having to respond to the matter, reiterated that Kenya is not interested in the subject and that homosexuality is largely rejected by its people.
“There are some things that we must admit we don’t share. It’s very difficult for us to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept,” he said. “This is why I say for Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue.”
Kenyatta made similar comments earlier this week when asked about the topic by reporters.
“That is a non-issue to the people of this country, and it is definitely not on our agenda at all,” Kenyatta told reporters. “We as a country, as a continent, are faced with much more serious issues which we would want to engage the U.S. and all our partners with.”