The airport has already been secured by US security agents in anticipation of the president’s arrival next week. Mr. Eric Kiraithe, the head of security at the Kenya Airports Authority, said they are working with US agents to ensure smooth operations during the visit.
The Nairobi Times followed how what started as a demand from a student leader at a Kenyan University for President Obama to visit their institution degraded into a demonstration by a homophobic extremist group.
The students began by making outrageous declarations that if the president did not visit 18 students would commit suicide and others would demonstrate in a disrespectful way.
This led to the Republican Liberty Party in Kenya to mobilize 5,000 men and women to protest unclothed against President Obama’s “aggressive support of homosexuality.”
The group sent a letter to the Administration Police Commandant warning of their intentions to demonstrate on July 22 and 23 in the public streets.
Africa has a history of being anti-gay and is being called a “continent at war with itself.”
Homophobia in African nations
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a bill criminalising same-sex "amorous relationships" and membership of LGBT rights groups. Gambian president Yahya Jammeh declared: "We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively."
In Uganda homosexuality is already a crime, and new laws broadened the scope to life in prison for offenses.
In 2014 the Associated Press reported a meeting when American rights activists spoke with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He compared the punitive legislation and racist laws to South Africa’s apartheid. Another problem is the media contribute to spreading dissention against gay populations. Politicians and the news media are not alone fanning the flames of homophobic discontent, as there are large segments of Africans who upon meeting will be warm and welcoming—until the question of homosexuality is raised. Discussions quickly turn into outbursts of homophobic prejudice and rage.
One of the explanations for the dominance of anti-gay sentiment is religion. In 1910 only 9 percent of sub-Saharan Africa was Christian. In 2010 the number of those declaring to be Christian had increased to 65 percent, according to Pew Research.
A human rights and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said, “Prior to western colonization, there are no records of any African laws against homosexuality. The real import into Africa was not homosexuality but homophobia.” Some believe colonialization is at the root cause.
Furthermore, an argument in defense of so-called “tradition” trades on cultural relativism and exploitation of postcolonial guilt. Human rights groups insist individuals have the right to not be tortured and a minority right should be protected from violations perpetrated by a majority which is grounded in philosophical thought.
The 19th century British political philosopher John Stuart Mill in “On Liberty” wrote, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others, hence, the birth of the “no harm principle.” The purpose is to prevent government from becoming a vehicle for the “tyranny of the majority,” that he viewed as not just. Also, as a prevention against social tyranny that stifles minority voices and imposed a regimentation of thought and values. Mill is the basis of liberal political philosophy for free markets, economic liberalism, and social liberalism. The application to gay rights is obvious.
Also US evangelicals have been accused of turning to Africa as conservative anti-gay attitudes are losing credibility in the US. Whereas, in Africa the progressives are under pressure and the conservatives are on the rise.
Human Rights Watch reports a paradox, however, in a wave of opposition: “Harsh laws enacted may be a measure not of failure but of success, a reaction gay and lesbians asserting their political identity and rights [in Africa] as never before.”
Whether President Obama will respond in Kenya to the demonstrations against his stand on homosexuality, we will have wait and see. Clearly Kenya has many issues, but international human rights deserve to be near the top of the list.
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
Running a news based website is fun, time consuming and can be costly. If you would like to help the site keep afloat please use the donate button