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Obama disagrees with DP William Ruto on gay rights

Friday July 24 2015

ANTONY KARANJA
By ANTONY KARANJA
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DALLAS

President Barack Obama expressed his disagreement with Deputy President William Ruto’s stand on gay rights, hours before leaving for Nairobi.

Mr Obama was responding to a question by BBC North America editor Jon Sopel, who pointed out that he might face a challenge in Kenya due to his support of gay rights.

“We have heard in the US that they have allowed homosexuality and other dirty things…,” Mr Sopel read Mr Ruto’s statement to the US president.

Mr Obama quickly interjected as Mr Sopel was finishing the sentence and said, “Well, I disagree with him, don’t I?”

Mr Obama recalled a similar experience he had with Senegalese President Macky Sall on his last visit to Africa when the two disagreed on the issue.

TRANSGENDER

He said he was very blunt during a press conference about his belief that everybody deserves fair treatment in the eyes of the law and the State and that includes gays, lesbians and transgender people.

“I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody on the basis of race, on the basis religion, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender and I think this is actually part and parcel of the agenda that’s also going to be front and centre and that is how we are treating women and girls,” Mr Obama said.

The US leader added that as somebody who has family in Kenya, he knows the history of how the country is so often held back because women and girls are not treated fairly.

He said even as he advocates for equal treatment of these two groups, he believes those same values apply when it comes to different sexual orientations.

DP Ruto has opposed gay rights and had earlier stated that no amount of persuasion will influence the country's stand on the issue.

Kenyan evangelical leaders have also warned Mr Obama against speaking on gay rights while in Kenya.

The US leader left Washington, DC, for Nairobi at 3.20am Kenyan time.