Monday’s anti-gay march in Nairobi (Image: Denis Nzioka)
A small group of “pro-family” demonstrators have marched against LGBT rights in Nairobi, Kenya this morning.
The protest, dubbed “The March for the Family (Anti-gay march)”, was set to be attended by the “anti-gay caucus committee” in Parliament – led by MP Irungu Kangata – and members of the Catholic and Christian community, including Bishop Mark Kariuki.
According to Kenyan LGBT activist Denis Nzioka, less than 40 people turned out for the event, which he believes was held in response to President Barack Obama’s highly anticipated visit to the country later this month.
“The organisers of the march have insisted that when he comes he does not speak about homosexuality or same-sex marriage,” Nzioka told Mambaonline.
He expressed the LGBT community’s concern about the impact of the American president speaking out in support of LGBT rights during the trip. There are fears that him doing so could be used by the anti-gay lobby to bolster homophobic sentiment.
“There are some who say him saying anything will be detrimental. Others are saying he should use this chance to shut down those who are anti gay and demonstrating once and for all,” Nzioka said.
“My own opinion is that he should probably not mention LGBT [issues] in specific or explicit terms but couch his language on human rights, health, democracy… and most important, equality.”
Gay sex is illegal in Kenya, with penalties of between five to 14 years’ imprisonment. The constitutionality of this ban under the county’s 2010 Constitution has yet to be challenged in court. The Kenyan government is appealing a recent Nairobi High Court ruling ordering it to register an LGBT rights organisation.
Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, has previously spoken out in support of LGBT rights while in Africa.
In June 2013, Senegal’s President Macky Sall and Obama exchanged words over the issue during the American leader’s visit to that country. In a Nelson Mandela memorial speech in Johannesburg later that same year, Obama also mentioned the persecution of people because of “who they love.”
Last week, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe lashed out at Obama for his support of the US Supreme Court’s ruling to legalise same-sex marriage.