An incredulous and outraged Christiane Amanpour warned Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday that “you’re going to get yourself into trouble,” following his strong repudiation of the LGBT political agenda in a CNN interview with the journalist.
After Kenyatta made it clear to Amanpour that Kenyan society rejects homosexual behavior and has no interest in establishing “rights” for the practice of sodomy, Amanpour took off her glasses, and, shaking her head, began to scold Kenyatta.
“You’re going to get yourself into trouble, because what you’ve categorically just stated is that this is not an issue for us, for the Kenyan people, and you don’t think that the idea of their privacy, their equality, their rights, is important!” Amanpour told Kenyatta. “This is a global issue right now.”
Amanpour told Kenyatta that Kenya’s law prohibiting sodomy is a “holdover” from “colonial Victorian” law, and claimed that homosexuals “just want to have equal rights the same privacy and equality as all other Kenyans do.” She then asked, “Is that something you aspire to for your country?”
“I want to be very clear, Christiane. I won’t engage in a subject that is not of any major importance to the people of the Republic of Kenya,” responded Kenyatta.
“This is not an issue, as you would want to put it, of human rights. This is an issue of society, of our own base as a culture, as a people, irregardless of which community you come from. This is not acceptable, this is not agreeable, this is not about Uhuru Kenyatta saying yes or no. This is an issue of the people of Kenya themselves, who have bestowed upon themselves a constitution after several years, have clearly stated that this is not a subject that they are willing to engage in at this time.”
Although he acknowledged that the opinions of his people might change in the future, Kenyatta told Amanpour: “That is the position that we have always maintained, those are the laws that we have, and those are laws that are one hundred percent supported by ninety-nine percent of the Kenyan people, irregardless of where they come from.”
However, following Amanpour’s warning that he would “get into trouble” for his views. Kenyatta implied that he might have an opinion of the matter that differs from the majority in his country.
“I am saying that it’s not important to me as the leader of 49 million Kenyans, and after, if you want to ask me my personal opinion, after I finish my process, I can talk about my personal opinion. But as the leader of the people of the Republic of Kenya, I represent that which our people is desirous to be. I have no choice, and that is my position.”
Current law in Kenya prohibits homosexual behavior as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” as a felony that can be penalized with up to fourteen years in prison. Kenyans, like most other Africans, overwhelmingly reject homosexuality, with 90% calling it “unacceptable” in a 2013 Pew Research poll. This rate is actually lower than other African countries. In Nigeria, the “unacceptable” response was given by 98% of respondents, while 96% gave the same response in Uganda, Senegal, and Ghana.
The new constitution of Kenya, approved in 2010, begins by recognizing “the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation.” The national anthem begins, “O God of all creation, bless this land and nation.”
U.S. president Barack Obama sought to pressure Kenya to change its laws regarding homosexuality during a state visit to the country in July of 2015, and he received a similarly forceful response from Kenyatta.
“We share so many values — our common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families,” Kenyatta told Obama. “These are things that we share. But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share — our culture, our societies don’t accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.”
“This is why I repeatedly say that, for Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” added Kenyatta.
A Nairobi court is considering a challenge to the country’s anti-sodomy law, and is scheduled to announce the date for the publication of its decision later this week.
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