Outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration’s faith could have cost him his job, the Sunday Nation has learnt.
Sources familiar with the events leading to his resignation say that Mr Gration is a staunch Christian who was uncomfortable with the Obama administration’s liberal views on issues of sexual orientation.
The son of missionary parents, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Scott Gration spent his childhood years in the now Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya.
His discomfort with the matter became apparent last Tuesday when he skipped an event at the US Embassy in Gigiri, Nairobi marking Gay Pride Month.
Though members of his staff did not explain his absence, they were at hand to host the event, believed to have been marked for the first time in Kenya. It was also marked in other US embassies globally.
The event, which was scheduled to begin at 10am, was attended by the media, various US officials and human rights activists, including members of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya.
The Nairobi embassy opted for a small invite-only forum that began half an hour late owing to the stringent security checks at the entrance. Each participant had to be escorted into the venue.
“The US Government for its part has made it clear that the advancement of human rights for LGBT people is central to our human rights policies around the world and to the realisation of our foreign policy goals,” John Haynes, a public affairs officer at the US Embassy, said during the event.
The event to mark Gay Pride Month is part of the Obama administration’s policy to fight prejudice against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
“It shows that the US is actively reaching out to the local LGBT community,” an activist at the event said.
“Pride events” are held every June to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York City that were sparked by a police raid against homosexuals in late June 1969. These riots are widely regarded as the beginning of the gay rights movement.
Kenyan activists who supported the event saw it as an opportunity for networking, but some were sceptical about its effect because the media had also been invited.
The event began with a televised clip from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Human Rights Day held last year in Geneva.
Since President Obama took office, his administration has championed a human rights agenda that includes the protection of LGBTs and proclaiming June as LGBT Pride Month.
“Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” Mrs Clinton states in the clip. At the event, governments were urged to repeal or reform laws that criminalise sexual minorities.
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya general manager Eric Gitau challenged the public to create a safe environment for LGBT persons in the country.
Religious and cultural
“Our war is on religious and cultural fronts where there is discussion on what is natural and unnatural,” said Mr Gitau at the forum in Gigiri. “We will continue with the fight for equality.”
The forum ended two hours later after comments, questions and a call from GALCK for networking to support their advocacy activities in the country.
Last year, Mrs Clinton reiterated her country’s stand that it was important to recognise and uphold the rights of gays globally.
“It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave,” she said.
“We need to attain a global consensus by recognising the rights of LGBT persons as human rights.”
Being an LGBT does not make you less human, she added. Mrs Clinton dismissed the notion that homosexuality is a Western phenomenon, adding that it went beyond racial, economic and cultural boundaries.
“Being gay is ... a human reality,” she said, adding that gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world.