July 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Deputy Kenyan president: LGBT activists should leave country

William Ruto, Kenya, gay news, Washington Blade

Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto (Photo by the World Trade Organization; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto on Sunday said LGBT rights advocates should leave his country.

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.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

14 Comments
  • Coming from one of the most uneducated, uncultured, uncivilized countries in the world: Kenya. We are all surprised at this?

    • Marianna12345, What do you mean by ”the most uneducated, uncultured, uncivilized countries in the world: Kenya.” While your country is busy jailing people, we are busy educating them. The ratio of learned Kenyans in regards to population is way higher than your country. We still believe in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

      • You say you are educating people but yet you still hang on to the old time speculations that people made like Adam and Eve, the world is flat, and the sun revolves around the earth. Civilization continues to learn and evolve and Kenya will be moving on just as well because not all people believe the way you do.

      • Your post made some good arguments (about America’s high prison numbers which are a problem) – but you lost credibility with your last sentence that is ignorant and bigoted.

        If you want respect from people different than you, you should be willing give the same respect yourself my dear.

        • Marianna12345 is the typical product of racist, colonialist scum. The ones that preach morals to every other nation but cannot uphold any of the morals they preach.

      • Can we send all our Christian conservatives and all others that hate GLBT people as much as you to your country then? I’d gladly welcome your GLBT people to America in exchange for other like you to go there.

        For such a wonderful country as you describe with such an educated workforce, why do so many live in poverty and lousy infrastructure? Countries like your own typically are so corrupt.

    • I’m not an Africa expert, but Kenya seems more moderate than some of the other countries of the region like Somalia and Uganda.

  • I’ve lived and worked in Kenya. A wonderful country with many kind and gentle LGBTI people who live in fear, but who act with courage to assert their right to live and work in their beautiful country. This homophobia comes from religious fanatics in the USA. It is our responsibility to let the majority of Kenyans who have swallowed Christian fundamentalism hook line and sinker that faith should not be about oppressing others and denial of basic human rights, such as access to health care, education, housing, jobs and to life itself.

  • Marianna . . . that’s a bit rich! Some of the most hateful, vitriollic condemnation comes from America . . . from American Christians, no less. How civilized are they?

    • Not very civilized, but they are being dragged, kicking and screaming, to marriage equality now that it is the law of the land. The American Presbyterian, Episcipalean, Unitarian, and other Christian churches are now performing same gender marriages. Of course the Southern Baptists and other Evangelists are still dragging their feet! :>)

      • Churches aren’t needed to marry people legally. Religion isn’t required to have a legal marriage. If they don’t want to sanction such marriages who cares? Religion doesn’t own marriage and that’s the point!

    • We should pity Marianna12345. It’s not her fault that she is a product of imperialist, colonialist scum who think they are superior to every other nation while they go around the world starting wars.

  • What a great response by Secretary Kerry. If we had a Republican Administration, they would have probably been praising Ruto and his disgusting comments.

  • I’m afraid you’re right, Bruce. Those heteronormative, anti-gay evangelicals who sense they are losing their voice against the steadily growing tide of rational thought, along with Christians beginning to actually practice loving hospitality, compassion and love, are moving to African countries where total ignorance still reigns and gay men and lesbians are viewed as ‘things’ to be hated and killed, not respected as human beings. This is the dirty, dark side of fundamentalism in all its glory!
    Even so, the increasing social and religious recognition of equality and the theological understanding that the ancient Hebrew and Greek biblical passages do not actaully say what is so poorly assumed by fundamentalists is – in my opinion – a powerful work of the Holy Spirit. It will not be stopped, as a consequence. The bottom line is to be gay is to be God-created, and to be gay is not a sin. Sexuality does not equal righteousness and morality – we can be straight/gay and highly moral, faithful, committed, respectful and loving, or we can be straight/gay and totally immoral, sacreligious, promiscuous and sexually stupid!
    Remember, we find God (for example) banning absolutely Eunuchs from the Temple (Deut 23) and then changing his mind and giving them an eternal name in the Temple (Isa 56). Later, Christ matter-of-factly refers simply to castrates (eunuchs) and gay men (natural eunuchs or eunuchs of the Sun) and says basically that they are part of life, so get over it (Mt.19), then Philip baptizes the Ethiopean eunuch into the church without question or hesitation and without asking if he is a castrate or a gay man. Fundamentalists need to start questioning their own hateful stance and inability to accept equality.
    This current change in attitude is no different, and is as wonderful, as the outrageous and amazing change from one Covenant between God and the Jews and one new Covenant through Christ to incorporate Jews and Gentiles alike . . . and don’t forget, that initially went down like a lead balloon for many! Dirty, unclean foreigners loved by God . . . ? Impossible! Recognition that God loves his queer children (and always has, actually) is exactly the same.
    Blessings.

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