U.S. President Barack Obama moves to greet guests after delivering remarks at a reception celebrating the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in the East Room of the White House July 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. The reception was held on the eve of Obama's latest trip to Africa, which will include stops in Kenya and Ethiopia (Photo : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama and Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta talked about terrorism, corruption and gay rights. The two particularly discussed their stances on gay rights.
NBC News reported that during a state dinner hosted by Kenyatta on July 25, Obama joked about criticisms regarding his true birthplace. There are existing controversies about Obama’s background, with birthers claiming that his birth certificate was forged and that the President was actually born in Kenya, his father’s homeland.
“Some of my critics back home might be suggest I’m here to look for my birth certificate. That’s not the case,” the President said.
It is the first time that an incumbent American president visited an East African nation. Many Kenyans have long wished for Obama to visit them, considering him as one of their own.
BBC News reported that Obama urged Kenya to tackle corruption by holding visible trials. Although Obama previously praised Africa’s business and economic potential, corruption may be the country’s biggest impediment to further growth. Obama said that aside from paying police officers and public servants properly, what is simply required is to “break the habit” of corrupt practices.
The two leaders also stated that they are united in the fight against terrorism and will share efforts to handle the issue. BBC News cited that the United States will provide more funding and assistance to Kenya’s security troops for counter-terrorism purposes. Direct flights between the two countries are also being developed. Obama also proposed a federal rule to ban the sale of almost all ivory to stop poaching in Africa.
CNN cited that the two world leaders clearly differed in their stances regarding gay rights. While the United States continue to provide more rights to the gay community, Kenyan law has been stringent and continue to frown upon same-sex relationships. In Kenya, sexual activity between men is illegal and violators can be imprisoned for a maximum of 14 years.
Obama lectured Kenyatta about the United States’ gay rights record at a joint press conference in Nairobi. Obama said that legalized discrimination of gays is equivalent to legalized racism in America.
However, Kenyatta said that although America and Kenya have several common values and objectives, gay rights are not among these.
“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 for Kenyans today the (gay rights issue) is generally a non-issue. We want to focus on other areas.”