Obama Just Took a Bold Stand for Gay Rights in Kenya — And It Didn't Go Over Well

Source: AP
Source: AP

President Obama took some time out from his historic, multi-day trip to his father's homeland of Kenya to criticize that government's record on gay rights.

On Saturday, while conducting a press conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Obama referred to his own background as an African-American and stated he was "painfully aware of the history when people are treated differently under the law," the Associated Press reports.

"That's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen," Obama added. "When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread."

"With respect to the rights of gays and lesbians, I've been consistent all across Africa on this," Obama told the crowd, according to the Washington Blade. "I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law. And they are deserving of equal treatment under the law and the state should not discriminate based on their sexual orientation."

Source: Mic/NBC
Source: Mic/NBC

However, the president seems to have received a chilly reception from Kenyan officials on the topic of gay rights. Many Kenyans have protested Obama's pro-LGBT stance by warning him to steer clear of the issue during his visit. Pew Polling indicates that the vast majority of Kenyans believe homosexuality is immoral and leaders have criticized Obama for his advocacy. Homosexuality remains a crime in Kenya that can land men up to 14 years in prison.

For his part, Kenyatta insisted that LGBT rights were not on the "foremost mind of most Kenyans." As noted by Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason on Twitter, the delegation that met Obama included Deputy President William Ruto, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

According to CNN, the president said he hopes to return to Kenya as a private citizen when he will "have more freedom to reconnect" with the country.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

MORE FROM

NFL players donate $20,000 to youth football team that was punished for national anthem protest

"We wanted to make sure that we sent those kids the message that it's OK to stand up for what you believe in," Malcolm Jenkins said.

10 things you might have recently missed in the movement for social justice

From Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen to acquittals and vigils, the last few days haven't been easy to keep up with.

Judge declares mistrial in retrial of officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose

The jury spent five days deliberating Ray Tensing's fate.

University of Missouri to revoke Bill Cosby's honorary degree

The president of Mizzou said Cosby's actions were not in line with the university's core beliefs.

The Movement for Black Lives responds to recent claims of a fractured coalition

"We make no assumptions that everyone and everything within our movement is perfect — far from it," organizers said.

White Americans more likely to own guns, blacks more likely know someone who has been shot: study

New research reveals startling stats about the relationship African-Americans have with guns.

NFL players donate $20,000 to youth football team that was punished for national anthem protest

"We wanted to make sure that we sent those kids the message that it's OK to stand up for what you believe in," Malcolm Jenkins said.

10 things you might have recently missed in the movement for social justice

From Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen to acquittals and vigils, the last few days haven't been easy to keep up with.

Judge declares mistrial in retrial of officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose

The jury spent five days deliberating Ray Tensing's fate.

University of Missouri to revoke Bill Cosby's honorary degree

The president of Mizzou said Cosby's actions were not in line with the university's core beliefs.

The Movement for Black Lives responds to recent claims of a fractured coalition

"We make no assumptions that everyone and everything within our movement is perfect — far from it," organizers said.

White Americans more likely to own guns, blacks more likely know someone who has been shot: study

New research reveals startling stats about the relationship African-Americans have with guns.