Kenyan Catholic bishops have reacted sharply to US President Barack Obama’s call for gay rights in Africa, and reaffirmed their opposition to active homosexuality.
While visiting Kenya from 24 to 26 July, Mr Obama likened the campaign for gay rights to the African-American struggle for civil rights in the United States. He said the state did not need to bring religious teaching into the equation.
“It [the state] just needs to say, we are going to treat everyone equally under the law,” said Mr Obama.
But President Uhuru Kenyatta said it was very difficult to impose on people something they did not accept.
He said that while Kenya and the US share some values – democracy, value for families, entrepreneurship – there were “some things that we must admit we don't share”. “That is why I have repeatedly said, the issue of gays rights is really a non-issue. We want to focus on issues that are of daily importance for our people,” he said.
On Monday Bishop Philip Anyolo, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said while they welcomed the Obama visit, the bishops did not agree with him on the question of gay rights.
“We believe in God’s plan – one man one woman – for procreation. This has not changed,” Bishop Anyolo told The Tablet.
Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret backed President Kenyatta’s stand on homosexuality. He said Kenyans viewed the practice as contrary to their cultures and traditions and “the youth should not be forced to copy other cultures”.
Under Kenyan law, sexual activity between men is illegal and punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 14 years.
However, the bishops agreed with Mr Obama on the need to end corruption in Kenya, and welcomed US support for Kenya’s struggle against Somalia’s Al-Shabaab terrorists.
Above: Presidents Obama and Kenyatta speak at a press conference. Photo: PA