In Kenya, Obama reiterates support for gay rights

Sun. July 26, 2015 9:22 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

U.S. President Barack Obama has reiterated his support for gay rights while visiting Kenya.

Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Kenya.

At a press conference Saturday, Obama disagreed with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on his country's record on gay rights.

"When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode," Obama said during a joint press conference with Kenyatta in Nairobi. "And bad things happen."

Gay sex is illegal in Kenya. Some African leaders have called on President Obama to keep his views on the subject to himself.

(Related: Pat Robertson calls on Obama to listen to "fellow Africans" who oppose gay rights.)

"And when a government gets in a habit of people treating people differently, those habits can spread," Obama added. "As an African-American, I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law."

Kenyatta, however, defended his nation's laws, suggesting that they were rooted in tradition.

"The fact of the matter is Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families – these are some things that we share," he said. "But there are some things that we must admit we don't share. Our culture, our societies don't accept."

"It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept," Kenyatta added. "This is why I repeatedly say for Kenyans today the [gay rights issue] is generally a non-issue. We want to focus on other areas."

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine