On Saturday, President Barack Obama, who just completed a visit to Kenya, issued a call for increased rights of LGBT people in the African nation. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta was not interested.
“As an African-American in the United States,” Obama said in a joint press conference, “I am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently under the law.”
“I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law and that they are deserving of equal protection under the law and that the state should not discriminate against people based on sexual orientation,” he continued. “I’m unequivocal on this.”
Kenyatta was just like, “Nah.”
“For Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Kenyatta said. “We want to focus on other areas that are day-to-day living for our people... This issue is not really an issue that is on the foremost of mind of Kenyans, and that is a fact.”
“Maybe once, like you have overcome some of these challenges, we can begin to look at new ones.”
The Atlantic’s Matt Schiavenza explained that the current outlook for gay rights in Africa is generally bleak:
Of the continent’s 54 countries, only one, South Africa, has legalized same-sex marriage. In many others, opposition to homosexuality is nearly universal. According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, 98 percent of the population of Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, believe homosexuality should not be part of society. The percentages in Senegal and Ghana were scarcely lower. In Uganda, where public opposition reaches 96 percent, rights activists achieved a rare victory in 2014 with the overturning of a law mandating life in prison for many instances of gay sex. But months later, a similar piece of legislation was enacted in Gambia. Attitudes in the continent’s southern countries aren’t much more tolerant. When a Supreme Court decision legalized gay marriage in the United States last month, Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe remarked that he would take the opportunity to propose marriage to Obama himself.
Watch a video of the press conference below:
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Image via AP.