Obama Clashes with African Host Over Gay Rights

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  • DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage as a “victory for American democracy” but clashed with his African host over gay rights in a sign of how far the movement has to go internationally.

    Obama said recognition of gay unions in the United States should cross state lines and that equal rights should be recognized universally. It was his first chance to expand on his thoughts about the ruling, which was issued Wednesday as he flew to Senegal, one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality.

    Senegalese President Macky Sall rebuffed Obama’s call for Africans to give gays equal rights under the law.

    “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” Sall said, while insisting that the country is “very tolerant” and needs more time to digest the issue without pressure. “This does not mean we are homophobic.”

    Obama said gay rights didn’t come up in their private meeting at the presidential palace, a mansion that looks somewhat similar to the White House. But Obama said he wants to send a message to Africans that while he respects differing personal and religious views on the matter, it’s important to have nondiscrimination under the law.

    “People should be treated equally, and that’s a principle that I think applies universally,” he said.

    A report released Monday by Amnesty International says 38 African countries criminalize homosexuality. In four of those — Mauritania, northern Nigeria, southern Somalia and Sudan — the punishment is death. These laws appear to have broad public support. A June 4 Pew Research Center survey found at least nine of 10 respondents in Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

    Papi Nbodj, a 19-year-old student who stood by the road to the presidential palace to see Obama’s arrival, said homosexuality is against the religious beliefs of most in Senegal.

    “We are in a Muslim country, so we certainly cannot have it here,” he said. “And for me it’s not OK to have this anywhere in the world.”

    Sall sought to reassure Obama that gays are not persecuted in Senegal. But under Senegalese law, “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex” can be punished by up to five years in prison.

    Ndeye Kebe, president of a human rights organization that works with homosexuals called Women’s Smile, disputed Sall’s contention that gays are not discriminated against.

    “I know of around a dozen people who are in prison for homosexuality as we speak,” she said. “There wasn’t any real proof against them, but they were found guilty and they are in prison.”

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    8 thoughts on “Obama Clashes with African Host Over Gay Rights

    1. LOL this man clearly has avoided the Black agenda like plague. say what you want but facts don’t lie he fights for the groups that he wants and apparently the black community is not on his list of approved groups. Blacks still don’t live in a balanced and equal society after generations in America so I think he should take care of home first before he picks up a new agenda. These nations have the right to stay in line with the bible and quran if they choose as free nations.

    2. How NARROW minded people are, especially BLACK PEOPLE when it comes to the legal rights of gay Americans. We live in a FREE “democratic society” and some Americans DO NOT have equal rights. It’s HARD for some black folks to get their head around this notion. But YES, gay people have rights too. This is a group of people who are fighting for their civil rights just like black people, when wwe were fighting for our civil rights.

    3. So this Christian President can go across the world and Lobby for gay rights but cant lobby for or even mention the black community that helped vote him in office? I bet Tavis Smiley doesn’t look so crazy now.

      • Pres. Obama IS NOT a christian president. He’s a chrisitan who happens to be president of the United States of America. We’re NOT an isolationist nation, so it’s the head-of-state’s responsibility to communicate with heads-of-state’s from around the world.

        As for the so-called “can’t even mention…” non-sense. How quickly we forget how this “christian” president fought hard for national health care that POOR black people will be able to benefit from come 2014.

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