From the University of Chicago Divinity School:
While doing preliminary research for a project on religion, homosexuality and LGBT rights in Kenya, July-August 2015, I discovered a different side of the gay debate in Africa—one that so far has received very little attention. Where religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is often presented as a key force fueling homophobia and legitimizing anti-LGBT attitudes and politics, I found it also to be employed as a counter-force.
When President Obama visited Kenya in July of last year, there was excitement and controversy. People were excited because he was the first US President to visit the country, and also because Obama – whose father was Kenyan – could be welcomed as a ‘son of Africa’ returning home. At the same time, controversy emerged about Obama coming to ‘preach gay rights’ since his visit occurred shortly after the US Supreme Court had legalized same-sex marriage.
In Kenya, the colonial anti-sodomy laws are still in place, and not one political party advocates abolishing them. Yet one marginal Kenyan political party, the Republican Liberty Party, seized the Obama visit as an opportunity to profile themselves.
Party operatives made global headlines by announcing a mass nude protest in Uhuru Park in Nairobi so that Obama could see and understand the physiological differences between the two genders.
I went to Uhuru Park the morning scheduled for the protest. However, there weren’t any protesters. The Republican Liberty Party had already reached its aim: it had received media attention, and at his joint press conference with Obama, Kenyan President Kenyatta had to openly dissociate himself from his American counterpart and declare publicly that Kenya wasn’t ready for gay rights.
Instead of nude protesters, I encountered a small group of gay, Christian men meeting in the park—not to cruise for sex—but to pray for each other and to support each other in their entrepreneurial activities, for which they had set up a system of savings and loans.