20/20 HeinzSight

Obama and Kenyan President Spar Over Gay Rights in Joint Speech

 In an unintentional yet weird recreation of the joint press conference scene from the 2003 film Love Actually, U.S. President Barack Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta sparred with one another during a live televised presser. Instead of disagreeing over the subject of American military supremacy, however, Kenyatta took issue with Obama’s remarks on LGBT rights.

Despite the two’s penchant for remarking on their respective country’s shared characteristics, Obama couldn’t help but “lecture” his Kenyan audience on the matter:
“When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode,” Obama said at a joint press conference with the Kenyan leader in Nairobi. “And bad things happen.”
He then connected Kenya’s anti-gay laws to racism and racial-based legislation in the United States:
“And when a government gets in a habit of people treating people differently, those habits can spread,” Obama continued. “As an African-American, I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law.”
Kenyatta, however, disagreed with Obama’s remarks and made a few of his own:
“The fact of the matter is Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families — these are some things that we share,” Kenyatta said. “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,” Kenyatta continued. “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.”
According to the video, several in the audience applauded Kenyatta’s own take on the matter, especially since it was seen as being more in line with the country’s views (as opposed to Obama’s). If I’m not mistaken, that’s when Kenyatta left the press conference and recreated the famous Hugh Grant dancing scene from Love Actually.

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