NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says gay rights are a “nonissue” in Kenya and that the issue is not a priority.
Kenyatta was asked about gay rights during a joint news conference with President Barack Obama in Nairobi. Obama voiced strong support for gay rights in Africa.
But Kenyatta says while the U.S. and Kenya agree on a lot, there are some things that cultures or societies just don’t accept.
Gay sex is a crime in Kenya punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Kenyatta says it’s very difficult to impose beliefs on people that they don’t accept. He says his government wants to focus elsewhere.
Kenyatta says after Kenya deals with other, more pressing issues such as terrorism, it can begin to look at new issues. But he says for the moment, gay rights isn’t at the forefront for Kenyans.
President Barack Obama is likening gay rights in Africa to rights for African-Americans in the United States.
Obama says he is “unequivocal” on the issue of gay rights and discrimination. He says it is wrong for law-abiding citizens to be treated differently under the law because of who they love.
Obama says he’s been consistent in pressing the issue when he meets with African leaders.
The president says he knows that some people have different religious or cultural beliefs. But he says governments don’t need to weigh in on religious doctrine. He says governments simply have to treat everyone the same.
Obama says as an African-American, he’s “painfully aware” of what happens when a government treats some people differently. He says, “Those habits can spread.”
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