Nairobi : US President Barack Obama’s message on gay rights during his landmark visit to Kenya, where homosexuality is outlawed, has drawn a strong criticism for imposing his values on the African continent, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

Ignoring cultural differences between the western world and Africa, Obama called for gay rights, comparing homophobia to racial discrimination during his talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the report said.

Obama, who started to embrace gay marriage in 2012, told Africans that discrimination against gays was like treating people differently because of race. He said he was “painfully aware of the history” when people were treated differently under the law.

Kenyatta, however, said gay rights “is not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans”.

Some African rights groups urged Obama to tread cautiously on the issue and a number of Kenyan political leaders said that any overtures on gay rights would not be welcomed in Kenya.

Anti-gay laws have public approval in Kenya and homosexuality is seen as immoral, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

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