A fringe political party in Kenya has announced that it will show U.S. President Barack Obama its disapproval of his support for LGBT rights by holding a protest of 5,000 "totally naked" party members.
"Our very objective is that Obama can see from a distance the difference between a man and woman," said Vincent Kidaha, leader of the Republican Liberty Party, during an interview with Nairobi News.
Though Kidaha's party has no members in Parliament, it has won international attention for submitting an anti-LGBT law to Parliament that includes punishments of life in prison for Kenyans convicted of homosexuality and stoning to death for foreigners. But the legislation has not advanced in Parliament, and though some senior politicians have made anti-LGBT remarks over the past year, there has been no serious effort to expand Kenya's laws against homosexuality beyond the colonial-era sodomy law already in place.
Kidaha informed the police of his planned protest — which will take place on July 22 and 23, ahead of Obama's planned visit to the country — in a letter dated July 13 published by the Nairobi Times. "The procession shall be carried out by approximately 5,000 totally naked men and women to protest over the United States of America President Barack Obama's open and aggressive support for Homosexuality," the letter explained.
In the interview with Nairobi News, Kidaha said that "the procession will be carried by totally naked 4,000 men and 1,000 women" who will be required to leave their clothes in a "big bag" when they arrive at the protest site. Kidaha reportedly told The Star newspaper that the protesters would come in part from "a network of prostitutes in Nairobi, Nakuru and other counties" affiliated with the Republican Liberty Party, who would be participating for free out of concern of losing business if homosexuality spread in Kenya.
"Women are still there in Africa; we are not insufficient of men or women in Africa," Kidaha said. "That is why we allow men to marry ... more than two wives. In America, to marry another wife is a taboo. It's a criminal offense. So we are telling you that in Africa, it is a taboo for a black man who has roots in Africa to come and talk issues of sex where your aunts are listening," an apparent reference to Obama's relatives in the country.
If Kidaha's protests materialize, they will be the largest in opposition to LGBT rights around Obama's visit. Though a Twitter campaign telling Obama not to discuss LGBT rights during his visit to the country got some traction last week under the hashtag #KenyansMessageToObama, street protests have reportedly been small.
White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said that the president would not back down from discussing LGBT rights during the visit to Kenya despite warnings from top Kenyan lawmakers about raising the issue.
"I'm confident that the president will not hesitate to make clear that the protection of basic fundamental human rights in Kenya is also a priority and consistent with the values that we hold dear here in the United States of America," Earnest said during a daily briefing on June 6.
Watch Vincent Kidaha explain the naked protest to the Nairobi News
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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