Kenyan Media Plays the Anti-GAY Card in US Ambassador’s Resignation

By Melanie Nathan, July 01, 2012.

Several media outlets in Kenya are reporting that the US ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, was forced to resign his post because of the pro LGBTI equality stance of the U.S. Government.

In a statement, Major Scott Gration, who has only held the position for a year, said he had written to US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to inform them of his decision to resign last Monday. Gration said that it had been a great honor and a profound privilege to serve as the US envoy to Kenya since May 2011.  However, he went on to say,  “Differences with Washington regarding my leadership style and certain priorities lead me to believe that it’s now time to leave.”

The Daily Nation, The Kenyan Daily Post and The Standard have all weighed in, blaming the stance on the equality issue as the reason for the resignation, despite the Embassy denial that this was the cause.

For example The Kenyan Daily Post  notes the United States Ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration on Friday, “ was forced to resign due to hosting a number of meetings with the Gays and Lesbian Community in Kenya.  The ambassador last week hosted a meeting for gay and lesbian community in his official residence which irritated senior officials of the Kenyan government.”

This report makes no sense as the Obama administration is pro equality and to suggest that the Kenyans forced the resignation of a US Ambassador over hosting meetings with the LGBT community is ludicrous. It is highly unlikely that a pro-equality Obama administration, which has made it clear that it stands for  global LGBT human rights, would force the resignation of  its own Ambassador for holding such meetings. It is also unlikely that the Kenyan government would have any input , even if it was offended, as the LGBT event was at the behest of the Obama administration and so any Ambassador would have complied.

One outlet went so far as to link the resignation to the Ambassador’s staunch anti-gay Christian beliefs. But this too is unlikely as Gration’s less than stellar performance was about to be exposed through an internal audit reflecting on his work, which apparently reveals inadequacies in performance.  To make the direct LGBT correlation is perhaps opportunistic.

The use of  homosexuality and blaming the gays, is all too conspicuous, as it happens Gration’s resignation occurred only a few hours after a party for the LGBT community had been held at the U.S. Embassy in Gigiri, at the behest of the Obama administration for Pride  celebrations, worldwide. The Embassy held this as a first ever LGBT celebration of Pride, in Kenya, a country that must now grapple with the fact that it enjoys a good relationship with the USA, while it outlaws homosexuality as criminal. Kenyans admire the U.S. equality favoring President, Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya.

The Kenyan media is quick to suggest that the party may have caused some anger in the religious ranks or amongst Kenyan Government officials.  The embassy sponsored Pride event is not unique to Kenya as similar outreach are being held by U.S. embassies in other parts of the world, to promote LGBTI human rights.

Information Officer Katya Thomas at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi who said that the LGBT Pride was not the reason for his resignation. “That’s absolutely untrue, the LGBT Pride is an American month of June awareness event and its part of our foreign policy agenda and we had that event,” said Thomas. “We’re very happy to get that message across to the Kenyan public. Ambassador Gration’s resignation has nothing to do with that event or with our advocacy of LGBT rights,’ Thomas said.

Given this statement you would think the Kenyan Media would back off, but instead they remained intent on playing the gay card. But the Media merely alluded to other differences causing the resignation and so perhaps one could construe blaming the US stance on equality and LGBT outreach as an opportunity to take advantage of the timing of the Pride events and to denigrate homosexuality.

While even though Kenyan outlet, The Standard reports comments from an MP Gitobu Imanyara, who said: “the resignation of Ambassador Gration is good news for Kenyan-US relations particularly in terms of the reform agenda. He has been too sympathetic to the lords of impunity,” it still framed the resignation in the context of homosexuality, an indication that the Kenyan media is taking advantage of the timing and is fired up with an excuse to scapegoat using homosexuality by pointing its finger tacitly at the US government for its pro-equality stance.

In fact the style of his work did leave much to be desired according to a New York Times report:

“In Kenya, many of his underlings at the American Embassy said he was remote and imperial. He also did not seem to be engaged in Kenyan politics as the country heads into one of the most anticipated presidential elections in its history, the first since 2007, when the country exploded in ethnic violence. But some State Department and embassy staff members said they were reluctant to press their criticisms of him because of his close ties to the president.

People familiar with the disputes confirmed reports on Friday that Mr. Gration preferred to use Gmail for official business and set up private offices in his residence — and an embassy bathroom — to work outside the purview of the embassy staff.”

Accordingly, it is clear that the Kenyan Media has failed to report objectively on this issue and have been quick to blame homosexuality (LGBTI equality)  as it seeks, albeit tacitly, to denigrate the notion that this American administration does promote human rights and equality for all LGBTI people around the world.

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