Gay rights is non-issue in Kenya, Uhuru says during CNN interview

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. /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. /FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday said Kenya does not consider gay rights relevant as it goes against the cultural beliefs of Kenyans.

In a manner reminiscent of his response to former US President Barack Obama in 2015, Uhuru said Kenya’s cultural beliefs do not consider homosexuality a human right.

“I want to be very clear, I will not engage in any subject that is not of any major importance to the people and the Republic of Kenya. This is not an issue of human rights, this is an issue of society, of our own base as a culture as a people regardless of which society you come from. This is not acceptable, this is not agreeable,” he said.

Uhuru said his stand on gay rights was not a personal opinion but rather the voice of Kenyans as outlined in the Kenyan Constitution.

“After several years, I have clearly stated that this is not a subject that we are willing to engage in,” Uhuru said.

During Obama’s visit to Kenya in July 2015, Uhuru sternly told the former US president that Kenya was not ready to embrace homosexuality.

He urged the US to respect the will of the Kenyan society which he said had rejected same-sex marriages.

“We share a lot of things but gay issues are not among them. We cannot impose on people what they don't accept,” Uhuru told Obama when he hosted him at State House, Nairobi.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Friday, Uhuru reiterated the stand saying he operates under the Supreme Law of Kenya which is the Constitution.

Section 165 of the Kenyan Constitution outlaws same-sex marriages and stipulates a five-year jail sentence for any sexual practices between same-sex partners.


Uhuru said under the prevailing laws, he cannot allow same-sex activities to be tolerated unless, in future days, the law is repealed to allow it.

“Maybe our society will have reached a stage where those are issues that people are willing freely and open to discuss. I have to be honest with and that is a position we have always maintained,” Uhuru said.

“Those are the laws that we have and those are the laws that are 100 per cent supported by 99 per cent of Kenyans regardless of where they come from,” he added.

The head of state, however, said he does not advocate for the violation or discrimination of the LGBT community in any way as they are also part of the society whose rights as Kenyans is provided for by the Constitution.

“But, they also must recognize that their freedom must also be taken into the entire context of the society that they live in because this is not a question of the government accepting or not accepting. This is a question of society,” he said.

On the circus surrounding the alleged involvement of Cambridge Analytica in Kenyan elections, Uhuru denied any connections with the data mining firm which has been accused of meddling in the Kenyan and US elections.

“I have no knowledge of any engagement whatsoever with Cambridge Analytica. I hear it on your news media,” Uhuru said.

He dismissed claims by senior officials of CA as revealed in a covert expose on Chanel 4 recently that they handled his campaigns ahead of the general elections including writing his speeches.

“You need to just look at the speeches that we were making across the country and tell me what speech do you see there that has been written. 99 per cent of all the speeches that I made during that period were off the cuff and I addressed over 700 political rallies in a period of seven months.”

Uhuru denied knowing or meeting Cambridge Analytica's political arm managing director Mark Turnbull.

He also said no member of his political campaign team met with any executives of the data firm.

Uhuru also denied the involvement of the government in the violence that rocked the country during last year’s polls.

He said he will ensure such incidents never happen again adding that an avenue will be created for those affected by the violence to seek justice.

"I abhor all loss of life, all those who were hurt (from) both sides of the political divide. As far as I am concerned, we have no responsibility for those.

"But as a parent myself, I feel for them, I sympathize with them and I give them my assurance that I will do anything that is in my power to ensure that this kind of a thing never happens again and make available channels to ensure that anybody who lost life or property is availed a channel to get justice," Uhuru said.

In December last year, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said 92 people were killed by police and civilians in the aftermath of the August and October elections.

In its report titled 'Still a Mirage', the rights group said 26 victims were killed after the October repeat election, 20 by unknown people and six by police.

It said 247 election violence victims were tortured and injured during the same period, 111 of them after the October 26 repeat election.

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