Protesters opposed to homosexuality took to the streets of Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Monday, days ahead of a visit by United States President Barack Obama, warning him against promoting homosexuality in the country. Obama is scheduled to visit Kenya for the Global Leadership Summit, set to be held in Nairobi later this month.
The activists said that homosexual behavior would be morally damaging to the country’s youth. “We want Obama, we want Michele, and we want a child. We do not want Obama and Obama, we do not want Michelle and Michelle. We want Obama and Michelle and we want a child,” they chanted during demonstrations, according to local news site Capital News.
LGBT rights and homosexual activity are deeply controversial in the majority-Christian nation. Sex between people of the same gender is illegal and punishable with up to 14 years in prison. A 2007 report by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that 96 percent of Kenyans were opposed to homosexuality. Activists claim that LGBT Kenyans are often threatened, extorted or harassed and found it extremely difficult to report such cases to the police fearing persecution. A pro-LGBT civil group in Kenya, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), had its application to register as an NGO blocked five times since 2012 before being permitted in April.
The protest comes shortly after the U.S. legalized gay marriage in a watershed ruling by the Supreme Court, which was also endorsed by the president.
Bishop Mark Kariuki, chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and the protest’s leader, reportedly called homosexuality an “attack on the family.”
“Most of the issues that are going on today that have to do with population control are issues that are against the family. Homosexuality, condoms to young children in school, in Genesis 1: 26, 27 and 28, God said that we should be fruitful and multiply,” he said.
“So when Obama comes, we are asking him to respect the morals of Kenyans, to respect the faith of Kenyans, he is coming for a commercial visit, let him talk about the conference but he should not talk about gayness (sic) because he is a world leader and our young people will start thinking that is a way of life.”
The protest comes a day after Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto told practicing homosexuals to leave the country and said the government would never legalize it. “The other day you heard that in America the court has ruled about homosexuality but in this country we will defend what is right and what our faith states,” he said, according to the Standard Digital. “God did not create man and woman for a man to come and marry another man. We believe in God. This is a God-fearing nation and we will be firm on what is right.”