Google has invited anti-gay activist and Kenyan government official Ezekiel Mutua to its Web Rangers conference in Mountain View, California, and is reportedly even sponsoring his passport and visa.
According to a report on abuses of LGBT people from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Kenya sexual contact between consenting adults of the same sex is criminalized by four statutes, the most recent from 2003. Prison terms for breaking anti-gay laws can be set at to years.
Mutua, who is the head of the Kenyan film classification board (KCFB), gained notoriety this year for banning from the country’s servers local band Art Attack’s cover of the Macklemore gay marriage anthem Same Love, saying it “promotes homosexuality” in Kenya, where homosexuality is illegal.
“Kenya must not allow people to become the Sodom and Gomorrah through psychological drive from such content,” said Mutua.
In 2014, Mutua banned Stories of Our Lives, a film about Kenya’s gay community, for “obscenity, explicit scenes of sexual activities and [for promoting] homosexuality, which is contrary to [Kenya’s] national norms and values”.
“Because of my stand on moral values, including the banning of content promoting LGBT and atheists culture in Kenya, someone wrote in a local daily that I will never get a visa to the US,” Mutua wrote in a post, now deleted, on his Facebook page.
“Well, I not only got it but it came on a diplomatic passport and I didn’t even have to go to the embassy for biometrics or pay the visa application fee. It was delivered to my office free of charge thanks to our efficient ministry of foreign affairs and highly courteous US embassy officials. America here we come … TO GOD BE THE GLORY!”
Sources from inside Google say that there is much conflict happening in the company over Mutua’s invitation. With some trying to defend it suggesting that discussions about bullying, especially as it affects teens struggling with nascent sexual identities, could prove helpful. But Mutua’s reputation in Kenya makes that seem highly unlikely.