HRC Stands with Kenyan LGBT People Who Suffer Violence and Discrimination in Their Country

by Ianthe Metzger

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, commended President Obama for his comments about the need to respect human rights for all people. At a press conference earlier today in Nairobi, Kenya, President Obama said countries should not discriminate based on sexual orientation, while Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta referred to gay rights as a “non-issue” for Kenyans.

Responding to a question from the media, Obama said, “I’m not equivocal on this. If somebody is a law-abiding citizen who’s going about their business or working in a job ... and not harming anybody, the idea that they’re going to be abused because of who they love is just wrong.” He went on to say, “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.”

“President Obama continues to show tremendous leadership on this issue and we commend him for speaking out on the importance of treating all people with dignity and respect, no matter who they are or whom they love, or what country they live in,” said Ty Cobb,  Director of HRC Global. “We sincerely hope that President Kenyatta and other African leaders listen to the voices of their own citizens who feel excluded from society, and live in daily fear of violence and discrimination.”

In response to today’s press conference, Eric Gitari,  head of a leading Kenyan LGBT organization, the National Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission spoke to the Washington Blade saying, “We feel excluded: That’s what Kenyatta is sending as a message.” In a statement the organization also said, “We encourage Mr. Kenyatta to endeavor to appreciate the stigma, violence and violations experienced by Kenyan gays and lesbians and how these degrading acts reduce the contribution by Kenyan gays and lesbians to the development of this resilient nation."

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

·  25 countries and territories now have marriage equality.

·  In 10 countries, same sex activity is punishable by death, and  75 countries criminalize same-sex relationshipsHundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

·  In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

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