Watch Obama go toe to toe with Kenya's president over gay rights

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama found himself at odds with the president of Kenya on Saturday over the issue of LGBT civil rights.

At a press conference marking Obama's visit to his late father's birthplace, the POTUS forcefully stated that he thinks Kenya and many other African nations need to change their way of thinking when it comes to their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens.

“As an African American in the United States, I am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently under the law,” Obama said. "If somebody is a law-abiding citizen who is going about their business and working in a job and obeying the traffic signs and doing all the other things that good citizens are supposed to do and not harming anybody, the idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong."


Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, as it is in the vast majority of African countries; in May, the country's deputy president said that there was "no room" for gay people.

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Standing next to Obama, Kenyan Pres. Uhuru Kenyatta pushed back, saying that Kenya simply did not "accept" the notion that homosexuality was worthy of protection.

“For Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue," he said. "We want to focus on other issues that really are day-to-day issues for our people."


Obama's intervention had been widely expected in the weeks leading up to his visit, with many in Kenya expressing outrage that he would raise the issue.

Still, there are signs that the environment there may be shifting, even fractionally. In April, Kenya's High Court ruled that an LGBT rights group in the country must be allowed to formally register as a non-governmental organization.


Related coverage:

Kenyan leaders to Obama: No gay stuff

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