QUEER VOICES

What Obama's Trip To Kenya Could Mean For LGBT Rights

Twenty-eight years after Barack Obama visited Kenya for the first time, he's returning for a fourth trip, this time as President of the United States. Although the highly-anticipated journey has drawn attention due to Obama's own Kenyan heritage, another pressing issue has dominated the conversation surrounding his visit -- LGBT rights.

While Obama's tenure has seen significant strides for LGBT Americans, culminating with the legalization of same-sex marriage last month, the situation in Kenya could not be more different. There, same-sex relationships are punishable with up to 14 years in prison, and 88 percent of Kenyans consider homosexuality to be "morally unacceptable." 

With this as the backdrop for his visit, some African leaders have advised Obama against addressing LGBT rights while in Africa, according to The Guardian's Africa correspondent David Smith.

"[Some fear] it could be counterproductive because it will just dominate the agenda," Smith told HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps. "But ... Obama in a BBC interview indicated he may well raise [the issue] because it's something he believes in."

While Smith said that Western leaders can sometimes be perceived as "neo-colonialist" for addressing such issues, Obama may be in a special situation to affect change due to his African lineage. 

"One might argue perhaps that Obama's Kenyan and African heritage puts a different spin on that, and maybe it's easier for him to press these human rights issues, including gay rights, than it would be for a white American or white British, given the history," he said. 

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about Obama's trip to Kenya and Ethiopia here

Also on HuffPost: 

  • Australia, 2014
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Australia, 2014
  • Brazil, 2011
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Brazil, 2011
  • Jamaica, 2015
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Jamaica, 2015
  • China, 2009
    Pete Souza/The White House
    China, 2009
  • Czech Republic, 2009
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Czech Republic, 2009
  • Colombia, 2012
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Colombia, 2012
  • India, 2010
    Pete Souza/The White House
    India, 2010
  • Egypt, 2009
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Egypt, 2009
  • South Africa, 2013
    Pete Souza/The White House
    South Africa, 2013
  • Israel, 2013
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Israel, 2013
  • Poland, 2011
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Poland, 2011
  • United Kingdom, 2014
    Pete Souza/The White House
    United Kingdom, 2014
  • Ghana, 2009
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Ghana, 2009
  • Myanmar (Burma), 2012
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Myanmar (Burma), 2012
  • Germany, 2015
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Germany, 2015
  • El Salvador, 2011
    Pete Souza/The White House
    El Salvador, 2011
  • Iraq, 2010
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Iraq, 2010
  • Japan, 2010
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Japan, 2010
  • Italy, 2009
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Italy, 2009
  • Jordan, 2013
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Jordan, 2013
  • Russia, 2009
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Russia, 2009
  • Vatican City, 2014
    Pete Souza/The White House
    Vatican City, 2014
CONVERSATIONS