Obama Wants Kenya to Accept Gay Culture
How do you handle an issue in a place where the leaders don’t believe it to be an issue? This was the underlying tone of the news conference on Saturday when President Barack Obama lectured Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta about Kenya’s history of gay rights, or lack thereof. Kenyan law deems sexual relations between men as illegal and is punishable by a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
CNN reports that President Obama, despite encouragement not to discuss gay rights from numerous Kenyan leaders, held a news conference with the Kenyan president wherein he chastised the legalized discrimination of gays or any group stating, “When a government gets in the habit of people treating people differently, those habits can spread. As an African-American, I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law.”
Obama drew similarities between Kenyan discrimination against gays and legalized racial discrimination in America. Despite Obama’s efforts to make his point and still respect the beliefs of Kenyan society, President Kenyatta made it clear that for Kenya, the issue of gay rights was in fact a non-issue. Kenyatta and Obama discussed several issues including Kenya’s economy and their joint battle against terrorism. President Kenyatta went on to explain that “Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families…” but was equally adamant in illustrating that “there are some things that we must admit we don’t share. Our culture, our societies don’t accept.”