President Barack Obama was warned by local leaders not to address gay rights prior to visiting his father’s homeland, Kenya, last week because he risked “opening floodgates of evil by supporting LGBT rights.” As numerous African countries recently put laws on the books banning homosexuality, they stand in stark contrast to America’s views on this topic.
“We are telling Mr. Obama when he comes to Kenya this month and he tries to bring the abortion agenda, the gay agenda, we shall tell him to shut up and go home,” warned lawmaker Irungu Kangata in a Kenyan national newspaper report.
Obama visited Kenya in order to attend the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which focused on its role in the sub-Saharan African economy, pinpointing the entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.
Monday, July 20, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president will not stay silent. “I’m confident the president will not hesitate to make clear that the protection of basic universal human rights in Kenya is also a priority and consistent with the values that we hold dear here in the United States of America.”
Later that day, according to the AFP, approximately 100 demonstrators appeared wearing T-shirts and carrying posters that read, “Protect the Family,” during a public display in the nation’s capital, Narobi. “We do not want Obama and Obama, we do not want Michelle and Michelle,” they chanted. “We want Obama and Michelle and we want a child!”
The next day Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at a news conference that gay rights was “a nonissue” and “definitely not on our agenda at all” prior to meeting with Obama over the weekend in what some say is America’s effort to impose its unethical values on Africa.
Many Africans are concerned Obama will press the continent to accept same-sex marriage after just several weeks earlier the White House was lit up with LGBT rainbow colors following the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, with Obama stating that the “same-sex marriage decision is a victory for America.” Others disagree.
“It is important for us as Kenyans to know that the U.S. is not God, and thus we cannot follow them blindly,” said protest organizer and evangelical Christian pastor Bishop Mark Kariuki, according to the AFP. He added, “Obama was welcome to visit his father’s home” but should not “talk about the gay issue.”
The following day, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto told worshippers at a church service that homosexuality was “against the plan of God. We have heard that in the U.S. they have allowed gay relations and other dirty things,” Ruto said in the Daily Nation newspaper.
Fellow legislator Jamleck Kamau added, “Anybody who tries to come and preach to this country that they should allow homosexuality, I think he’s totally lost … and I would also like to add, our son from the U.S., Barack Obama, when he comes here, to 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.”
Justin Muturi, an Anglican preacher and speaker of the National Assembly, suggested, “We must be vigilant and guard against it. We must lead an upright society and not allow obnoxious behavior as we have a responsibility to protect our children.”
Although he has visited Kenya several times as senator, this was Obama’s first as U.S. president. He still has relatives in the country, including his grandmother Mama Sarah and a sister. He also traveled to Ethiopia.
About 3,000 Kenyans planned to protest in the nude to welcome Obama upon his arrival last week to make a statement against his support for “American imposed ideologies which threatens the traditional African family,” according to Vincent Kidaha, who planned the demonstration by the Republican Liberty Party but ultimately canceled.