The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper, reported that Ruto made the comments during a speech at a Nairobi church in which he dismissed last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the United States.
“The other day you heard that in America the court has ruled about homosexuality, but in this country we will defend what is right and what our faith states,” said Ruto, according to the Standard.
Ruto reportedly said “God did not create man and woman for a man to come and marry another man.”
“We believe in God,” he said, according to the Standard. “This is a God-fearing nation and we will be firm on what is right.”
“We will fight for and defend our country and faith,” added Ruto. “Those who want to engage in those things can go to those countries and not ours.”
The Standard reported that three Kenyan parliamentarians and Nairobi County Assembly Minority Leader Hashim Kamau were among those who attended Ruto’s speech.
Ruto: ‘No room for gays’ in Kenya
Ruto has made anti-gay comments in other speeches and public appearances.
The leading Kenyan politician in May said during a speech at a Nairobi church that his country has “no room for gays,” according to Reuters. Ruto made the comments on the same day that Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the East African country.
“The United States believes that all people are created equal, that all people have rights, and that includes people of every faith, every gender and every choice of partner,” Kerry told reporters during a Nairobi press conference as he answered a question about Ruto’s comments. “No matter who you love or who you are in your life, you have all the rights of every other human being. That is our position in the United States, and we will never, ever waver in that position.”
Ruto during a 2013 debate compared gay men to “dogs.”
Eric Gitari, a Kenyan LGBT rights advocate, on Sunday told the Washington Blade that Ruto has hosted a number of anti-LGBT American Evangelicals in the East African country. These include John Eastman of the National Organization for Marriage and Sharon Slater of Family Watch International.
Gitari told the Blade that Ruto’s latest comments are “unfortunate.” The activist further suggested the leading Kenyan politician is using homophobic rhetoric as a way to deflect attention away from the International Criminal Court’s indictment against him over violence he allegedly orchestrated after the country’s 2007 general election.
“While the constitution protects his freedom of expression, it limits it to the extent it cannot be used to vilify others and incite hatred towards another,” Gitari told the Blade. “His utterances that anyone working on gay and lesbian issues in Kenya should leave the country amount to vilification and incitement.”
Ruto’s comments come less than a month before President Obama is scheduled to travel to Kenya where he will attending a global economic summit.
“LGBT persons live in every country of world and, like all persons, deserve to live in dignity, free of violence and discrimination,” Ned Price, spokesperson for the National Security Council, told the Blade on Sunday in response to Ruto’s comments. “The United States, pursuant to the president’s guidance, works around the globe to protect and promote the human rights of members of the LGBT community. And when we have concerns, we address them candidly with our counterparts.”
Price also referred the Blade to the statement that Obama issued in May to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in which he said “LGBT rights are human rights.”
Kenya is among the more than 70 countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.
Neither Ruto nor his office immediately on Monday returned the Blade’s request for comment.