Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, has told worshippers at a church service in Nairobi that homosexuality is not welcome in the east African nation.
Ruto’s comments came on the day US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kenya promoting rights, alongside discussions on security and terrorism.
“We will not allow homosexuality in our society as it violates our religious and cultural beliefs,” Ruto reportedly told a cheering congregation at the Jesus Winner Ministry Church near the capital.
“We will stand with religious leaders to defend our faith and our beliefs,” he said. “There’s no room for homosexuality in this country. That one I can assure you.”
Homosexuality remains illegal in many countries, including Kenya where it was outlawed under British colonial legislation.
Ruto, who is on trial at the International Criminal in The Hague accused of crimes against humanity, said his stance was about morality not politics.
“When we say this, we are not saying so as to get votes but to protect what we all believe is right,” he said, according to The Star newspaper.
Conservative Christian and Muslim countries in Africa reject open homosexuality.
In Uganda the anti-gay bill has been watered down and in Nigeria and Gambia tough new anti-gay laws have been introduced, with Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh, calling homosexuals “ungodly, Satanic… vermins [sic]” in a speech last year.
Homosexuality is illegal in 36 out of 54 African countries and punishable by death in four, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
In Kenya, too, a cross-party parliamentary group is seeking stricter application of existing anti-gay legislation.