As he began a trip to Africa, President
Barack Obama on Thursday voiced support for gay rights on the
Obama is the first sitting U.S.
president to visit Kenya and Ethiopia.
Some African leaders have called on
Obama to keep his views on the subject to himself.
Obama told the BBC that he plans to
make gay rights part of his agenda.
He said that he disagrees with Kenyan
Deputy President William Ruto, an outspoken opponent of gay rights.
“Everybody deserves fair treatment –
equal treatment – in the eyes of the law and the state,” Obama
said. “And that includes gays, lesbians, transgender persons.”
“And as somebody who has family in
Kenya and knows the history of how the country so often is held back
because women and girls are not treated fairly, I think those same
values apply when it comes to different sexual orientations,” he
Groups such as Human Rights Watch are
urging the president to put “pressing human rights concerns” in
Kenya and Ethiopia “at the forefront of your discussions.”