President Obama is currently in Africa meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on the condition of Kenya’s economy and how to combat regional terrorism. But Obama however, took one particular issue with charge- the question of gay rights across the African continent.
“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,” Obama said at a press conference Saturday (July 25).
As the AP reports, being found guilty of having sex with someone of the same gender can land a person in prison for up to 14 years in Kenya.
“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. When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread.”
Kenyatta, sharing the stage with Obama at the press event, went on to voice why, for the people of Kenya, LGBT concerns are, at this point, very much a “non-issue.”
“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 we must admit we don’t share, [that] our culture, our societies don’t accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose upon 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.”