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January 17, 2019

I will not allow violence on gays, Uhuru says, cites protection for all under law

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi July 25, 2015.Photo/file
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi July 25, 2015.Photo/file

President Uhuru Kenyatta has warned against "witch-hunts" on homosexuals saying all Kenyans have a right to protection under the law.

Uhuru asked the public not to take matters into their own hands and harass community members, as the Constitution is clear on the protection of all.

"I will not allow people to persecute any individuals, or beat and torture them," he said during a CNN interview on Sunday night.

Asked about the issue of gay rights, Uhuru referred to a press briefing US President Barack Obama, who visited in July, saying Kenyans are "not at that point in time".

"We have to understand that these are processes and they take time," he said, restating that it is a non-issue for Kenyans, whom he said have more pressing matters to deal with.

"And this is where I am saying we have to get synergies. You are not going to create the US, Great Britain or Netherlands in Kenya, or in Nigeria or Senegal overnight."

The President underlined that what he meant was not that gays have no rights.

"That's not what I'm saying. I am just saying the majority in our society do not wish to legalise this issue of gay rights," he said.

"Whatever society you come from, the principal aim is that you must give the people you know their right to choose".

At a joint press conference on July 25, Uhuru disagreed with Obama on the matter, saying values which "our culture and societies do not accept" must be acknowledged.

Obama had earlier said citizens "doing the right things" should not face discrimination because of who they love.

Uhuru's stance on violence against homosexuals comes after the killing of four prostitutes, whose bodies were disfigured, in Nakuru county last week.

The face of one of the victims was skinned and her eyes gouged out, while some body parts were missing.

The Kenya Sex Workers Association wrote an open letter to the President following the incidents and asked him to help end the killings, believed to be targeted.

In the letter, national coordinator Felista Abdalla said at least 40 sex workers are murdered every month, and that one was killed in Kisii and another in Nanyuki.

The sex workers said they have sought help in vain from the state.

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