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Barack Obama – Gay Rights While In Kenya

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[Barack Obama – Gay Rights While In Kenya]

[Jeff Mason:]
Can you comment on the state of gay and lesbian – the treatment of gay and lesbians in Kenya, which rights groups have called dismal, and President Kenyatta has called a non-issue?

[Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961)] Source: LYBIO.net
I’ve been consistent all across Africa on this. 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 their sexual orientation. And I say that, recognizing that there may be people who have different religious or cultural beliefs. But the issue is how does the state operate relative to people.

If you look at the history of countries around the world, when you start treating people differently – not because of any harm they’re doing anybody, but because they’re different – that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen. And when a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread.

And as an African-American in the United States, I am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently, under the law.

[Uhuru Kenyatta:]
Just like President Obama, I think we also need to be able to speak frankly about some of these things. And the fact of the matter is that Kenya and the United States, we share so many values – our common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families. These are things that we share. But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share – our culture, our societies don’t accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.

This is why I repeatedly say that, for Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue. We want to focus on other areas that are day-to-day living for our people: The health issues that we have discussed with President Obama. These are critical. Issues of ensuring inclusivity of women, a huge section of society that is normally left out of the mainstream of economic development. What we can do in terms of infrastructure; what we can do in terms of education; in terms of our roads; in terms of giving our people power, encouraging entrepreneurship. These are the key focuses.

Maybe once, like you have overcome some of these challenges, we can begin to look at new ones. But as of now, the fact remains that this issue is not really an issue that is on the foremost mind of Kenyans, and that is the fact.

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