LGBTQ question: Ruto upholds Uhuru’s hardline position on homosexuality
President William Ruto and his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta don’t agree on many things. However, their tough stance on the LGBTQ question is one thing they share, if the current head of state’s reaction on a ruling by the Supreme Court that gave a greenlight to registration of LGBTQ organizations in the country is anything to go by.
This clearly came out on Thursday when President Ruto, said as mush as he respects the Judiciary, he will not allow same sex marriages in the country.
“I am a God fearing man. Even though we respect the court, our religion, traditions, law and customs do not allow for women to marry fellow women, nor for men to marry fellow men. I want to tell them that we have traditions, laws and customs, we respect our constitution and all our religions. We shall not allow women to marry women, or men to marry men. That is not possible in our country,” the President said.
The Head of State, who was speaking during International Women’s Day celebrations in Nairobi, vowed that he will not allow same sex marriages to take place under his watch.
“Do not worry. It will happen elsewhere; it won’t happen in Kenya. We know that there are many people spreading this idea, our children in university are being pressured by these dirty teachings. I ask all religious leaders in the country to stand firm and educate our children and Kenyans so that we do not lose our customs, Christian and Islamic religious beliefs to platforms that are preaching foreign concepts,” he said.
President Ruto made these remarks to an audience which included the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman.
The LGBTQ question is one of the issues President Ruto addressed after the Supreme Court upheld his election victory.
“We have Kenyan law, we have Kenyan constitution, we have our tradition, customs; we will continue to respect other people’s customs as they respect our customs and traditions,” he said during an interview with CNN, echoing what his predecessor had told the same news channel years earlier.
As a matter of fact from former president Uhuru Kenyatta was categorical during that interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“One of the major issues, and it’s a hold over sort of from colonial Victorian, is the issue of sexual preference in many African countries. In Kenya, to be gay, the LGBTQ community is illegal. They just want to have equal rights, the same privacy and equality as all other Kenyams do. Is that something you aspire to for your country?” Amanpour posed.
To this President Kenyatta responded: “I want to be very clear, Christiane, I will not engage in a subject that is not of any major importance to people in the republic of Kenya. 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 – regardless of which community comes from. This is not acceptable, this is not agreeable.
“This is not about Uhuru Kenyatta saying yes or no, this is an issue that 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 or any moment. And in years to come, possibly long after I’m president, who knows? Maybe our society will have reached the stage where those are issues people are willing and freely open to discuss,” he further said.
In typical fashion, Amanpour tried pushing the matter further, even saying the head of state was likely to get in trouble for his stance. But Mr Kenyatta was adamant that it may be an important issue across the world but it wasn’t important to him as the leader of 49 million Kenyans.
“Every Kenyan is protected by law but they must also recognize that their (queer community) freedoms must be taken into the entire context of the society that they live in because this is not a question of government accepting or not, this is a question of society – and any legal processes they undertake is based on the society one lives in – and that’s why laws are made,” he said.
Now with the Supreme Court ruling, the LGBTQ question has once again become a hot potato in the country. But with opinion sharply divided, this is one debate that is not going to die down anytime soon.