Earlier this week President Obama told officials across government to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons” around the world. And African Nations have been quick to condemn Obama’s call with one senior figure saying the notion is “abhorrent” across the African continent.
Kenya’s influential church leaders immediately condemned the idea that lesbian, gay, and transgender people deserved extra support to achieve equal rights.
“We don’t believe in advancing the rights of gays,” said Oliver Kisaka, deputy general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya. “God did not make a mistake; [being gay] is that person’s own perception. Those who live as gays need help to live right and we should not be supporting them to live in a wrong reality.
Obama’s Executive memorandum would boost legal, moral, and financial support for gay rights organizations, emergency assistance will be sent to groups or individuals facing threats, and asylum in the US will be offered to people forced to flee homophobic persecution in their countries.
To follow up Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also gave an International LGBT Rights speech marking international human rights day in Geneva, which is now drawing criticism from staunchly homophobic countries.
John Nagenda, a senior adviser to Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, told The Christian Science Monitor that this view would be “anathema” to most African nations. Last year a bill was tabled in the Ugandan parliament that would have imposed the death penalty for what was termed “aggravated homosexuality.” The bill has since been shelved, but being found to be gay still risks a maximum 14-year jail term.
“I don’t like her tone, at all,” he said.
“I’m amazed she’s not looking to her own country and lecturing them first, before she comes to say these things which she knows are very sensitive issues in so many parts of the world, not least Africa.
“Homosexuality here is taboo, it’s something anathema to Africans, and I can say that this idea of Clinton’s, of Obama’s, is something that will be seen as abhorrent in every country on the continent that I can think of.”
Almost all of Africa’s 54 nations current ban homosexuality and it is punishable as a criminal offense