Criticized by global gay rights group for not pushing the issue hard enough, President Obama made clear prior to his arrival in Africa that he planned to raise the issue of gay rights in his meetings with government officials—a fact which was met with no little opposition in his ancestral land of Kenya.
Despite the views of the people, Obama forged ahead with his own agenda on Saturday in a joint press conference with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, comparing the gay rights movement to the 1960’s American civil rights movement, warning that “bad things happen” when countries “discriminate” against certain groups of people or behaviors, reports The Hill.
In response President Kenyatta gave voice to the Kenyan people: “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,” including heath concerns and women’s rights. He continued saying, “This issue is not really an issue that is on the foremost of mind for Kenyans, and that is a fact.”
African governmental officials, accustomed to relying on their religious beliefs in their day-to-day decisions, largely share the views of the Kenyan president. Despite his stated agenda, President Obama did acknowledge that “there may be people who may have different religious or cultural beliefs.”