President Obama got off to an awkward start in Africa where he urged tolerance and equal rights for gays and lesbians in a country where homosexuality is a crime, in some places, punishable by death.
Shortly after arriving in Senegal, Obama praised the Supreme Court’s new rulings on same-sex marriage and asked African leaders to treat people fairly and equally.
But, Senegal President Macky Sall quickly rebuffed the suggestion, saying his country does not share the same views as Obama and America and that Senegal is “still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” the Washington Post reported.
According to the Post, which reported a transcript of the president’s remarks on the same-sex rulings, Obama said in part:
The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.
Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well.
The Daily Caller reported some interesting statistics on Senegal: “97 percent of Senegalese citizens consider homosexuality taboo,” and it is a “95 percent Muslim country and a sexually conservative and patriarchal nation.”
To that end, Sall defended Senegal’s values and laws.
“These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures,” The Daily Caller reported Sall answered. “We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.”