AFRICANGLOBE – US President Barack Obama arrived in Kenya yesterday on a weekend visit that will include talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta focused on trade and investment, counter-terrorism, democracy and human rights issues.
Obama is in the country officially to address the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which Kenya is hosting this year. The United States hosted the first such summit in Washington, DC, in 2010.
Obama told the BBC he will continue to deliver his “blunt message” to African leaders about gay rights and discrimination.
“I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender,” he said.
Obama’s support for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the United States has dismayed some Kenyans as well as many in the rest of Africa, which often takes a hostile view of the issue.
Obama voiced his support for sodomy in Senegal during his 2013 Africa tour, prompting both President Kenyatta and Kenyan Vice President William Ruto to criticise Obama’s remarks.
Kenyatta has said that gay rights in Kenya is a “non-issue and it is definitely not on our agenda at all”.
Vice President Ruto told a church service on July 5 that “homosexuality is against the plan of God”.
“We have heard that in the US they have allowed gay relations and other dirty things. I want to say as a Christian leader that we will defend our country Kenya, we will stand for our faith and our country,” he said.
Obama was asked about Ruto’s comments. “I disagree with him on that,” he said, adding that “everybody deserves fair treatment, equal treatment in the eyes of the law and the state. And that includes gays, lesbians, transgender persons.
“I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody on the basis of race, on the basis of religion, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender,” Obama said.
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