30 November 2010, 3:48pm
Gay groups in Kenya are concerned after the country’s president said gays and lesbians should be arrested.
Raila Odinga made the remarks at a rally on Sunday in the Nairobi slum of Kibera. He said that men and women caught in the middle of gay and lesbian sex would be detained.
The country’s largest LGBT group, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, said it had received frightened phone calls for gay and HIV-positive people who feared they could be taken into custody when collecting their HIV medication.
David Kuria, from the gay group, told the BBC that the prime minister’s comments could lead to gays and lesbians being targeted by blackmailers.
Yesterday, Mr Odinga’s spokesman said his words had been taken out of context.
Associated Press reported that there was a tape of Mr Odinga speaking in the Kenyan language of Kiswahili.
He is said to have remarked: “If a man is caught having sex with the other we jail them, or if a girl is caught with the other … we will jail them”.
“We want a country that is clean, a clean way of doing thing has clean mannerisms … we do not want things to do with sodomy,” he added.
His spokesman, Dennis Onyango, said that the prime minister had been trying to say that groups opposed to Kenya’s new Constitution had claimed it would legalise gay marriage in order to get people to vote against it.
“He then added a rider that even if the constitution allowed gay marriages, census data showed there were more women than men in Kenya and people would naturally go for marriage with the opposite sex,” Mr Onyango said.
“The highlight on the alleged order for a crackdown completely missed the point.”
Kenya punishes homosexuality with up to 14 years in jail.