Friday, September 30, 2022

Kenyans grappling with poverty, unemployment; gay rights not an issue: President-elect Ruto

Mr Ruto’s position is a shift from his stance in 2015 when he pushed against gay rights in Kenya, saying they did not have a place in the country’s society.

• September 7, 2022
William Ruto
William Ruto

Kenya’s President-elect William Ruto has said his administration will focus on pressing concerns in Kenya, such as unemployment and hunger, over LGBTQ+ rights in the country. 

On Wednesday, Mr Ruto appeared in an exclusive interview on CNN with Christiane Amanpour, where he was asked what plans his incoming administration had for the country.

Ms Amanpour later touched on human rights, particularly that gay rights, as Mr Ruto had been vocal against same-sex relationships, saying there was “no room” for homosexuality in Kenyan society.

“I am very clear that we respect everybody and what they believe in, but we also have what we believe in, and we expect to be respected for what we believe in,” Mr Ruto said, adding that he does not believe that LGBTQ rights are an important topic for Kenyans at this time. 

Ms Amanpour asked if his incoming administration would crack down on queer rights after she played a video of outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta mirroring Mr Ruto’s sentiment. 

“We do not want to create a mountain out of a molehill,” Mr Ruto said, “When it becomes a big issue for the people of Kenya, the people of Kenya will make a choice.”

Mr Ruto said his concerns now include the unemployed peopled in Kenya and those without food. Kenya’s current unemployment rate stands at 6.6 per cent

In March, the former deputy president said his Christian background teaches against homosexuality, but if elected president, the Constitution and the law will be the guiding principle.

Mr Ruto’s position is a shift from his stance in 2015 when he pushed against gay rights in Kenya, saying they did not have a place in the country’s society.

Mr Ruto had condemned the United States Supreme Court ruling that granted rights across American states for same-sex marriages, saying the same will never be replicated locally. 

Mr Ruto had won Kenya with 50.49 per cent of votes at the August 9 polls. On Monday, Kenya’s Supreme Court upheld Mr Ruto’s win, dismissing the allegations brought before it by opposition leader Raila Odinga.

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