Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


No problem with gays, but keep it to yourself, say Kenyans

27 July 2015, 07:30

Nairobi-People in Nairobi on Sunday gave a muted and measured response to US President Barack Obama's firm support for gay rights during his visit to Kenya.

Standing alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta outside State House on Saturday, Obama answered a journalist's question on gay rights by drawing equivalence between homophobia and racism.

"As an African-American in the United States I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law," Obama said.

The comparison is particularly stinging in Kenya, which, like other African countries, has a proud history of resisting and overcoming colonial rule by white foreigners.

"When you start treating people differently -- because they're different -- that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode, and bad things happen," said Obama, adding that treating people differently "because of who they love is wrong, full stop."

"I've been consistent all across Africa on this," said Obama, who previously spoke in support of gay rights during a visit to Senegal in 2013.

Then, President Macky Sall replied that his country was "not ready" to decriminalise homosexuality, which is illegal in 35 African countries and carries the death penalty in four, according to campaign group Amnesty International.

On Saturday, Kenyatta repeated his argument that, for Kenyans, gay rights is "really a non-issue". He said it was an area of disagreement for Kenya and the US.

"There are some things we don't share, that our society, our culture, don't accept," Kenyatta said.

Read Also: Ruto wrong on gay rights, Obama says

'Spirit of gayism'

Edna Kendi, a 29-year old software developer was unimpressed by Obama publicly advocating gay rights. "He has to respect our culture," she said. "People can be gay but they should do so in private and quietly."

Kendi urged Obama to "stick to issues that are pertinent to the visit," for her, corruption and trade.

Moses Abok, a 49-year old motorbike taxi driver waiting for customers beneath a shady jacaranda tree, echoed Kenyatta's view.

"To me, it doesn't matter. The spirit of gayism is inside just a few people," he said using a common Kenyan term for homosexuality. "It's not a big deal for us."

But Abok also welcomed Obama's words. "What he said is we should value all people, we shouldn't alienate or eliminate those people, because they are part of us, they are human beings," he said.

Ruo Maina, a 50-year old businessman in the manufacturing industry who had popped out to buy the Sunday papers, said what you do at home is nobody's business.

"As long as you do it in private, we don't care," he said. Maina was not interested in public debates on gay rights, but added that Kenya's vocal anti-gay extremists are equally indulging in unnecessary "provocation".

Read Also: US Ambassador downplays gay marriage backlash in Kenya

"We don't need to be saying it is deviant," he said.

Deputy President William Ruto periodically addresses evangelical Christian churches to warn against homosexuality. There is "no room" for gays in Kenya he told worshippers in May, and in July railed against the US for allowing "gay relations and other dirty things."

Anti-gay firebrand Irungu Kangata leads a cross-party caucus seeking to have the country's existing anti-homosexuality laws -- which include a maximum 14-year sentence -- to be strictly applied and makes frequent media appearances to explain that "gayism" is a lifestyle choice that can and should be unmade.

Vincent Kadala, an aspiring politician whose Republican Liberty Party has no seats in parliament, threatened to rally 5,000 naked men and women in order to show Obama "the difference between a man and woman".

The promised protest attracted a lot of media attention but was never held.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Mudavadi given permission to join...

Musalia Mudavadi has been ghranted permission by his party to join the CORD Coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
EACC officers raid Deputy Governo...

EACC officers raided the home of a Deputy Governor as theft case continues in court. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
New IEBC bosses to be named Novem...

New IEBC bosses will be named on November 30. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
DP Ruto has spoilt my name, activ...

DP William Ruto has spoilt my name, activist complains. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Apologise for attack on Auditor G...

Apologise for attack on Auditor General, President Uhuru Kenyatta is told by Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong'o. Read more...