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African clergy to protest Obama’s gay-rights ‘agenda’ on trip

Demonstrators marched against homosexuality along Nairobi's Uhuru Highway on July 6, 2015. They chanted in support of the family. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili
Demonstrators marched against homosexuality along Nairobi's Uhuru Highway on July 6, 2015. They chanted in support of the family. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Demonstrators marched against homosexuality along Nairobi’s Uhuru Highway on July 6, 2015. They chanted in support of the family. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Anti-gay activists, including conservative clerics, traditional elders and politicians, are threatening to resist any push by President Obama for gay rights during his Kenya visit later this week, with tactics that range from throwing rotten eggs to marching naked and boycotting his speeches.

On Thursday (July 23), Obama will fly to Kenya — his father’s homeland —  where he will attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi and then travel through neighboring Ethiopia. He will be the first U.S. president to visit Ethiopia. Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus will join him on the trip.

Ahead of the visit, anti-gay speeches have heightened intolerance, violence and discrimination against homosexuals, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

In Nairobi’s Kabete neighborhood, a landlord evicted a suspected gay couple and told them “go wait for your Obama,” according to news reports.


READ: Anglican secretary general draws praise in Africa, condemnation elsewhere


“Recently, we have seen everything from insults to this case of eviction,” said Denis Nzioka, a gay rights activist who has monitored evictions.

Obama — who has supported gay rights — is a symbol of hope for many homosexuals, but anti-gay activists fear he will push for equal rights for gays while in Kenya.

This is not the first time Africa has resisted Obama’s call for gay rights. While visiting Senegal in 2013, Obama clashed with his host, President Macky Sall, after Obama urged African governments to give equal rights to gays under the law.

Rev. Mark Kariuki, the President and over-seer of the Deliverance Church in Kenya prepares to launch an anti-gay march in Nairobi's Uhuru Park ground on July 6, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Bishop Mark Kariuki, president and overseer of the Deliverance Church in Kenya, prepares to launch an anti-gay march in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park ground on July 6, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

In Kenya, the clergy’s concerns intensified in June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages. The ruling received wide disapproval across Africa.

“We know he is an advocate of gay rights. When he comes here, we are asking him to respect the morals, the faith and the culture of Kenyans,” said Bishop Mark Kariuki, senior pastor of the Deliverance Church and chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya.

The group organized a protest of gay rights on July 6 in Nairobi; it attracted about 100 people. Other Obama protests scheduled this week include one in which an estimated 5,000 male and female prostitutes have been commissioned to march naked through the streets to “show him the difference between men and women.”

The leader of the Republican Liberty party, Vincent Kidala, said the prostitutes had agreed to participate free of charge because they would lose customers if homosexuality became legal, according to media reports.


READ: Christian caveman finds God in Wilderness, South Africa


“He should not make this (gay rights) his main agenda. We know he is on an economic and commercial visit and he should stick to that,” said Kariuki.

But for the Rev. Michael Kimindu, president of Other Sheep — Africa, attempting to bar Obama from speaking about gay rights is the highest level of intolerance.

“I think homosexuality should be part of his agenda. Kenya has homosexuals and Obama’s speech will not change things,” said Kimindu.  People’s concern “should be how to end stigma.”

Gay men demonstrate in Nairobi in support of others in Uganda after the country passed a draconian law dubbed "kill the gays bill" last year. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Gay men demonstrate in Nairobi in support of others in Uganda after that country passed a draconian law dubbed the “Kill the Gays Bill” last year. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

The clerics say they are concerned that Obama’s influence could sway young people to accept homosexuality as a norm.

“There is a risk! They may start believing this is a way of life. … Some may want to join gay groups after that. I think he needs to protect these innocent young people,” said Kariuki, who reiterated his view that homosexual acts were against God’s plan.

In a rare twist, an African traditionalist group — the Kikuyu Council of Elders — has also joined the fray, threatening to throw rotten eggs at Obama in protest.


READ: Boko Haram emerges as brutal Islamic State of Africa


Early this month, Sunday church services turned into anti-gay campaigns, with legislators vowing to boycott Obama’s speeches if he discussed gay rights.

On July 5, Rose Mitaru, a legislator and an ordained Anglican Church canon, told a church congregation in Embu, eastern Kenya, that equality for gays meant opening “the floodgates of evil synonymous with the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Kenyan anti-gay sentiments are not unique in Africa. Recently, African governments have tightened anti-gay laws.

In 2014, then-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a draconian anti-gay law that threatens homosexuals with jail terms up to 14 years. The same year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed similar legislation.

Initially dubbed the “Kill the Gays Bill,” it required citizens to report suspects to the police. The legislation was overturned a few months later on technical grounds, sparking a huge uproar from the country’s religious leaders.

Uganda Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali supported the law. On July 7, he termed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling dangerous and assured Ugandans of his continued opposition.

“We will do everything we can to … resist such immoral viruses that may try to infiltrate our people,” Ntagali said in a statement.

Homosexuality is illegal in 34 African countries, according to a 2015 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Months after the Uganda law was overturned, a similar law emerged in Gambia. And in October 2014, Chad also sought a ban on homosexuality. Chad’s proposed law would provide for 15 to 20 years in prison for same-sex relations.

To many in Africa, homosexuality is seen as a Western invention.

The Rev. Tolbert Thomas-Jallah, a Liberian clergyman and the head of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa, considers the push for gay rights payback for financial aid to Africa.

“We should not compromise our cultural, biblical and moral values because of aid,” he said. He added that he believes churches in Africa “must even stop taking gifts from partners that have allowed same-sex marriage.”

But there are a few exceptions to Africa’s resistance to gay rights.  On July 1, Mozambique dropped a colonial-era clause outlawing homosexuality. A dozen other countries in Africa have no laws against homosexuality, but only South Africa grants full marriage rights to gay citizens.

In Nigeria, LGBT acceptance is slowly increasing, according to a new survey by research agency NOI Polls. While 87 percent of adult Nigerians say they support the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law, that percentage is down from 96 percent in 2010, and 92 percent in 2013.

For homosexuals in Africa, that may represent some light at the end of the tunnel.

LM/MG END NZWILI

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About the author

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

38 Comments

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  • “Be Brave”, your frequent use of sexually perverse imagery to attack those who treat LGBT people as normal suggests you may need to read this, and do some deep and honest self-reflection on the subject of “self hatred”:

    Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?
    Government study shows “yes”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

  • “To many in Africa, homosexuality is seen as a Western invention.”

    It is not just in Africa but also in the diaspora that we see homosexuality as a symptom of the West and Whiteness.

    The highly distinguished Prof. Leonard Jeffries, a founder of the Black Studies departments at San Jose State College and CCNY, has revealed in his research that “homosexuality comes out of the caves that came out of Europe. …That system is based on the male principle, men loving men as fighting men. That’s the Valhalla. That’s the Nazi. That’s the Greek. …That’s not the value system Africa gave the world, which is the duality of male and female.”

    It is good that indigenous African peoples are standing up against the White Western imperialism that seeks to colonially impose the patriarchal values of man lust onto the noble continent of Africa.

    Social Justice Today! Social Justice Tomorrow! Social Justice FOREVER!

  • I remember mr. Jeffries. He also said that AIDS was a government conspiracy and that the Jews were out to get him.

    as a source for antigay propaganda, he is therefore unimpeachable.

  • The direct quote from an influential academic, perhaps? Do you want more? How about from Frantz Fanon? Postcolonial thinkers are highly critical of the racist institution of homosexuality.

    #blackideasmatter

  • Yes, he has been right about a lot of things besides the White European origins of homosexuality.

  • I believe that all should have equal rights. Including loving who you love without consequences. We are all people. One person does not have the right to suppress another. And if homosexuality is so immoral to the people, why is polygamy acceptable. The same literature that says homosexuality it wrong also condemned polygamy. Yet, you are silent on this. Polygamy does not promote “family values” that you have been preaching any more than homosexuality does. I think these groups are being largely hypocritical and only support this injustice because it lines up with what they want. Any kind of prejudice is wrong. I worry for your souls, you who desire to hurt others.

  • Wrong on all accounts. The same sources used to justify imprisonment and murder of gays, also is supportive of polygamy. Religious Scripture.

    Polygamy is banned because it wreaks havoc on existing binary based marriage laws. Homosexuality is criminalized because people hate gays and want them imprisoned or murdered.

  • Hmmm, South Africa is still Pro-normalcy. It might be a good place to retire when that time comes around. They see Obama as a strange oddball; well no counter argument from me. I’m still waiting for him to walk out of the closet with Larry Sinclair.

  • Leonard Jeffries — he’s a racist with nutty theories against white people and especially Jews.

    But it’s interesting how the far left, for all its supposed sympathy for multiculturalism, love of less developed nations and hatred of western cultural imperialism, is demanding that traditional African cultures adopt the full gay agenda, including gay marriage, thus exhibiting the same imperialism it condemns.

    The more sensible thing would be to push Africa to abolish laws against homosexuality. That’s something reasonable human beings anywhere are capable of supporting.

    But being radical leftists, who are as sensible as raccoons with rabies, they will push Africans all the way to redefining marriage…..handing a propaganda weapon to the crazies who want to kill gays, and, worse, to violent Islamist extremists who will gain recruits as a result.

    It’s a great way to radicalize and polarize Africa even more.

    Thanks, lefties.

  • Greg, the developing world sees the west as cultural arsonists. In some ways, they’re dead wrong but in some ways they have a point.

    One thing is certain: There’s no better way to increase recruits for Islamist extremist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda than for us to push our cultural radicalism on traditionalist societies. Radical Islamism already is making serious inroads in Africa and if we have any brains at all, we will strike a balance between modernization and undermining core beliefs.

  • So according to Ted, if someone is attracted to gays, they’re attracted to gays, but if they’re outwardly repulsed by gays, they’re also attracted to gays.

    This reminds me of the claim that both sweltering summers and bone-chilling winters are equal proof of global warming.

    It’s magical thinking……a theory that insulates itself from being falsified.

    Heads we win, tails you lose.

  • Or to put it another way, we should be promoting liberal democracy, not cultural revolution.

  • Ayesha, homosexuality was around long before “white European” civilization. It was very common in ancient Middle Eastern societies, including the nations surrounding ancient Israel.

  • So you are saying that people should murder and imprison others for the sake of multiculturalism? Jack you are all over the map here with partisan sniping here.

    “The full gay agenda” comes down to not being discriminated against or in this case outright persecuted for being gay. Your views are not much different from the African clerics, except by degree.

    “handing a propaganda weapon to the crazies who want to kill gays”

    Who were inspired and financially supported by American Christians. They were trying to enact the pogroms against gays they could not do in the US.

    Essentially you are saying Africans are too savage to handle civilized ideas like marriage equality. All despite the fact that the wealthiest nation in Sub-Sahara Africa already had it for the last 9 years.

  • South Africa had gay marriage since 2006. They have a problem with people assaulting and murdering gays. You have a strange definition of pro-normalcy.

  • Current US foreign policy:

    Africa: denounce all the countries that don’t agree with you on this

    Middle East: denounce the only country that does

  • Jack – not repulsed by nor attracted to gays must mean your straight and unbigotted – what an enlightened conclusion. More people are this way than you can imagine, especially our younger generations.

  • Larry, reread what you just posted. It’s you who are “all over the map.”

    First, you wildly accuse me of wanting to kill (??) gays, then you quote me saying precisely the opposite. Next you project your own anti-African bigotry onto me, even as you want to bully Africans into redefining marriage while I affirm their right to choose for themselves and only ask that their governments protect the right of all people, including gays, to dwell in peace and security.

    The bottom line is that I support the sane liberal democracy of the American Revolution and you support the totalitarian lunacy of the French Revolution. I want government to protect people’s right to be who and what they want to be, so long as they don’t harm others, while you want government to force people to live the way you want them to live. I think and speak like an American who wants people to be free ; you think and speak like a totalitarian who wants them to knuckle under.

  • No, jack, that is not what being a homosexual-hating homosexual is about.

    TWO WORDS: Ted haggard. Or Lonnie Latham, Cardinal O’brien, paul Barnes, Bob Baumann, Larry Craig, Eddie long, George Rekers, John hinson, Matthew makela, Richard Curtis, roy Ashburn, Ed shrock, Randy Boehning (gotta love that name!), David rapson, apparently Archbishiop Nienstedt, John Goseks (love that name, too!), Bob allen, and on and on and on and on and on.

    or per Greg, any number of Catholic Priests.

    As I have often said, self-hatred is a perversion that twists and distorts whatever it comes into contact with. In this case, the h-h-h’s battle their own demons by pretending to battle mine.

    Are all antigay people secretly gay? I doubt it. But I am increasingly convinced that so many of them are.

  • I don’t see you doing much denunciation of the efforts, funded and supported by American evangelicals, to imprison and kill gays being touted by these African clerics. The main subject of this articles So I guess you are all for it.

    You seem to think trying to undo the damages done by AMERICAN CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS to the human rights situation in Africa is “bullying”. You want to affirm a right to commit pogroms without criticism by foreigners and don’t feel like giving them more than a mild admonishment for such heinous actions. If those governments don’t feel like protecting the rights of its people, what do you propose? Nothing.

    “I want government to protect people’s right to be who and what they want to be, so long as they don’t harm others”

    And yet you supported legalized discrimination in the US under the phony pretense of “religious freedom”.

    You are such a bad liar.

  • Well, Ben, what you said is unobjectionable, because it rounds things out, but what Ted said is problematic because, at least by itself, it raises a bright red flag on the issue of falsifiability.

  • Well, MarkE, I have very few loves or hates in my life, which is fortunate because the few things that I do love or hate I feel quite intensely about.

    As for gay people, I was sheltered growing up, not having met any that I knew of, even though I grew up when openness toward gays was already a fact. My first encounter was as a teenager, when I saw from a distance someone getting beat up. I ran toward the altercation and broke it up…..because the strong harming the weak brings fire to my eyes. I ended up talking to the guy who was being bullied and it turned out he was gay and that this was why the bully picked him.

    I have an instinctive curiosity about people who are different from me. I want to know more and I want to understand what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes. So he began telling me about what it was like being gay.

    So I’m not in the “repulsed” or “attracted” categories when it comes to gays. I’m just me…for better or for…

  • No, Larry, not at all. Maybe I don’t fit into the neat little boxes you see when you look at other people. If so, maybe that means you need to get rid of those boxes and start afresh.

    You seem to think that everybody is either a rigid ideologue and partisan like you or a reactionary bigot. Open your eyes and see that the vast majority of people are neither. In that way, I’m very unexceptional. I don’t like either extreme — you or the knuckle draggers. And as I’ve noted, you can be a bit of a knuckle dragger yourself. Were you born in the Jim Crow South, I could see you as an unrelenting supporter of the status quo.

    Again, there’s a difference between helping people modernize and bullying them into adopting our ways. It’s a balance and if we want to make and keep friends in the world, we need to keep that in mind. It’s interesting how the far left (you) are as blind to that as your fellow fanatics on the far right.

  • You made a phony statement concerning the self-determination of African nations to plot their own course on the subject. You dishonestly ignore the obvious input by AMERICAN EVANGELICALS in creating the situation in the first place.

    Not much else needs to be said here.

  • Kenyan leaders, both political and religious, are warning President Obama to not include and promote his freedom-justified “gay” rights agenda during his forthcoming July Kenya visit.

    BUT Kenya is a democracy (believes in self-rule)
    …it believes in freedom of rights (which includes freedom of speech)
    …it believes in freedom of all religions
    …it believes in the freedom and right of ‘polygamous’ relationships and marriage.

    Did not the One Creator say that “a man shall be joined to his wife, and they shall become ONE flesh”?…Yes He did. (Genesis 2:24)
    The One Creator did NOT say that a man shall be joined to many wives if he so chooses…. thus creating “multiple unions” would make it impossible for them to become one flesh.

    And yet, because of their love for their “freedom and rights” they have justified polygamy to be good in their eyes.

    And they also believe in FREEDOM of all religions, i.e. religious liberty, which confesses that it is RIGHT , a right, to be…

  • Jack is a habitual liar. His record here plainly shows that. Most often, he lies regarding what others have said to try to make it fit what he wants to argue against. Jack needs professional psychiatric help.

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