President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in Kenya in a few weeks, but he faces a harsh rebuke if he talks about gay rights. Protesters gathered in the streets of Nairobi and senior officials have condemned any language on the “unchristian” and “dirty” topic. Obama talked about homosexuality during past visits to South Africa, Tanzania, and Senegal, and the White House indicates he doesn’t plan to shy away from it now.
Lawmaker Charles Njagagua called for President Obama to be ejected from the parliament building the second he mentions gay rights. Justin Muturi, speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly, said that the government would “sanction any advances perceived to encroach on our social fabric.”
Adding, “as an individual and a Christian, I am opposed to homosexuality and cannot condone gay practices.”
Likewise, the Telegraph reports that Deputy President William Ruto vowed to stop Obama during a church service.
“We have heard that in the U.S. they have allowed gay relations and other dirty things. I want to say as a Christian leader that we will defend our country Kenya, we will stand for our faith and our country.”
In Kenya, homosexual sex is punishable by 14 years in prison, and public opinion of gay rights is rock bottom. A 2013 Pew Poll found that only eight percent of the country’s population believed homosexuality should be accepted by society.
According to the Washington Post, dozens of protesters gathered in the streets of Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, chanting “Obama, no gay!”
Others shouted, “We do not want Obama and Obama, we do not want Michelle and Michelle. We want Obama and Michelle and we want a child!”
Protest leader Bishop Mark Kariuki explained, “When Obama comes, we are asking him to respect the morals of the Kenyans, respect the faith of the Kenyans.”
Twitter users from Kenya also vented their frustration at what the U.S. President might say using the hashtag #KenyansMessageToObama.
#KenyansMessageToObama We have very beautiful, amazing and lovely women… why should we be gay pic.twitter.com/32mBhctKxQ
— Nicky Mwathi (@nickythebrand) July 6, 2015
Despite the growing outrage, President Obama has stood firm. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said there were no restraints on what the POTUS would discuss.
“We have been clear that when the president travels around the world he does not hesitate to raise concerns about human rights.”
Some critics believe Obama’s Africa trip was poorly timed, given the Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage in all 50 states and the subsequent rally across the Internet. About half of Africa has laws banning homosexuality – in some places it’s punishable by death.
Whether or not he brings up the controversial topic while visiting Kenya, President Obama will likely draw criticism from commentators at home.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]