Kenyan evangelicals protest upcoming Obama visit
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 7/06/15, 03:07 pm
President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Kenya sent a small group of protestors to the streets on Monday. Their message to him: Don’t advocate for gay rights in Kenya.
About 35 people attended the demonstration organized by The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya in Nairobi, the country’s capital. Alliance leader Bishop Mark Kariuki said at the protest homosexuality goes against the country’s moral values and sends the wrong message to youths.
The event followed a statement by Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday, who said same-sex couples should leave the country, as the government will never legalize gay marriage.
Obama will visit Kenya later this month for the first time since he took office in 2008. He will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a platform for connecting upcoming entrepreneurs with leaders from business, international organizations, and governments.
Kenyan protesters worry Obama will call for gay rights even though his agenda for the country makes no mention of that. But their wariness stems from past experience.
In 2013, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Obama called on African leaders to grant equal protection to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Many African religious and political leaders rejected that appeal. According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is still considered illegal in 34 African countries, including Kenya.
After the U.S. Supreme Court voted last month to make same-sex marriage legal in the United States, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe joked he would travel to the White House and propose to Obama, since he endorses same-sex marriage.
During his African visit, Obama also will stop in Ethiopia—the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country—to meet with the Ethiopian government and African Union leaders for talks on economic and security issues.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.