“This is not an issue that they are going to put at the center,” Kenyatta told Zakaria during an interview that aired on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday, referring to the Kenyan people. “They have more pressing issues.”
Kenyatta’s comments come less than three months after President Obama discussed LGBT rights during a press conference in Nairobi with his Kenyan counterpart.
“For Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Kenyatta told reporters during the July 25 press conference that took place at State House. “We really want to focus on other areas that are day-to-day living for people.”
“First and foremost we’re all saying that whatever society you come from right, the principal aim is that you must give the people you know their right to choose,” Kenyatta told Zakaria. “Now where we are and at the level of development that we are in, I am not saying that these people don’t have their rights, that’s not what I’m saying. I am just saying that the majority — the majority in our society yes, do not wish to legalize, yes, this issue of gay rights.”
Kenyatta also responded to Zakaria’s question about whether he can “persuade” Kenyans to support LGBT rights.
“The people in Kenya are not, at this point in time, and that’s exactly what I said when we were with President Obama,” said Kenyatta.
Kenya is among the more than 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.
Obama in July met with Eric Gitari, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and other members of Kenyan civil society while in Nairobi.
Obama faced calls not to discuss LGBT rights during his trip to the East African country.
Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto — who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court over violence he allegedly orchestrated after the country’s 2007 general election — in July sharply criticized the Obergefell decision that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the U.S. Ruto also suggested LGBT rights advocates should leave Kenya.