Obama clashes with African host on gay rights

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He went on to say he doesn't believe “in discrimination of any sort” and drew a comparison between discrimination against gays today with past racial segregation in the United States.

President Macky Sall of Senegal bristled at the comments and warned against “bringing pressure to bear” on the issue.

“We cannot have a standard model applicable to all nations, all countries,” Sall said through a translator. “You said it, we all have different cultures, we have different religions, we have different traditions.”

He went on to take a dig at the United States for retaining the death penalty, which Senegal abolished in 2004.

“In other countries, it is still the order of the day because the situation in the country requires it,” he said. “And we do respect the choice of each country.”

Even in the U.S., Sall pointed out, tolerance for homosexuals is far from universal.

“For the time being we are still not ready to change the law,” Sall said. “This does not mean that we are all homophobic but the society has to absorb these issues, it has to take time to digest them without bringing pressure to bear upon them on such issues.”

The issue has proved a tough juggling act for the Obama administration, whose stated goals of respecting other cultures and promoting homosexual rights around the world are clashing head on during the president's three-nation tour of Africa. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced to much fanfare in 2011 a $3 million effort to fund gay advocacy groups fighting to decriminalize the practice, but the administration has dealt with the issue quietly since then and Obama said the issue did not come up during his bilateral meeting with Sall. 

Sall said the country is tackling the issue at its own pace and is even discussing the possibility of adoptions by gays.

“We must also show respect for the values, the choices of the other Senegalese people,” he said.

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