Obama pledges gay rights push in Africa
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President Obama said he will voice support for gay rights during his Friday trip to Africa, despite warnings from some leaders to steer clear of the issue.

In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Obama said he has delivered a "blunt" message on gay rights to African leaders in the past and the topic will be "front and center" when he visits Kenya and Ethiopia.

"Everybody deserves fair treatment, equal treatment in the eyes of the law and the state," Obama said. "And that includes gays, lesbians, transgender persons."

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The president was asked about comments made by Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, who said there are "no room for gays," in his country.

"Yeah. Well, I disagree with him on that, don't I?" Obama replied.

Obama has faced pressure from human-rights groups in the U.S. and Africa to push African leaders on equal rights during his trip.

The group Human Rights Watch recently urged Obama to demonstrate that "the U.S. is committed to accountability and freedom of expression as fundamental elements essential to improving human rights for all Kenyans.”

Kenya has a controversial law that makes gay sex a felony, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

A number of Kenyan politicians have urged Obama to remain silent on the issue while he is in their country.

"Obama should know that gay rights is Western. When in Africa he should value our rights,"  Vincent Kidala, leader of Kenya's Republican Liberty Party, recently said. 

Citing his family ties to Kenya, Obama said he is very familiar with how the country is "held back" by mistreatment of women and girls.

"I think those same values apply when it comes to different sexual orientations," he said.

"I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody on the basis of race, on the basis of religion, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender," he added. "And I think that this is actually part and parcel of the agenda that's also going to be front and center, and that is how are we treating women and girls."