The president made the remarks at a news conference he held with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who called gay rights in his country a “non-issue.” Obama discussed the subject on his first full day in Kenya while drawing on his own background as an African-American in the U.S.
“If somebody is a law-abiding citizen who is going about their business and working in a job and obeying the traffic signs and doing all the other things that good citizens are supposed to do and not harming anybody, the idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong,” Obama said.
Shortly after, Kenyatta said while the U.S. and Kenya share many values, gay rights is an issue on which the two countries disagree.
“There are some things that we must agree we don’t share,” he said. “Our culture, our societies don’t accept [homosexuality].”
Kenyatta added it was difficult to impose beliefs on the Kenyan people that they “do not accept.”
“This issue is not really an issue that is on the foremost mind of Kenyans and that is a fact,” he said.
Ahead of the trip, several Kenyan political and religious leaders had warned President Obama not to discuss gay rights while in the country.