For a political party so weak that it has no members in parliament, Kenya’s Republican Liberty Party has an amazing knack for grabbing the attention of the media.
The most recent example: The supposed plans for a 5,000-person nude protest if President Obama spoke about LGBTI rights during his recent trip to Kenya.
Obama did exactly that, but protesters were nowhere to be found. Turnout for the “nude protest” — 0.
Before Obama arrived in Kenya, Republican Liberty Party leader Vincent Kidala announced that the protest had been postponed at the request of government officials. He claimed that 3,600 people had already registered to take part in the protest “aimed at showing Obama the differences between a man and a woman,” as if that were in question.
“Kidala said the protesters will be on stand by in case Obama talks about gay rights during his three-day visit for the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit,” Kenyan newspaper The Star reported in an article about the postponement.
But when Obama discussed LGBTI rights, nothing happened.
Kenyan journalist Denis Nzioka said the protest was cancelled at the last minute. The media had assembled on the morning when it was supposed to be held, but the organizer nowhere to be seen and his phone was off. He sent a cancellation message later, Nzioka said.
Still, the Republican Liberty Party had unleashed a torrent of free publicity for itself.
- allAfrica.com: Kenya: Nude Protest Against Homosexuality (AllAfrica.com)
- Obama To Be Protested By ‘5,000 Naked Prostitutes’ (Huffington Post)
- Kenyan homophobe leading naked protest against Obama (Pink News)
- In Kenya, 5,000 naked people will protest Obama’s stance (LGBTQ Nation)
- Kenya gears for mass nude protest against Obama (Premium Times Nigeria)
- 5000 nude anti-LGBT protesters to greet Obama in Kenya (Sun Times National)
- Obama may be met by nude homophobes (Gay NZ)
- Kenya Hookers Recruited to Stage Nude Anti-Gay Protest for Obama (The Star, Kenya)
- Kenya: Nude Protest Against Homosexuality Awaits Barack Obama (NewsOK)
- Meet the man who’ll strip naked in anti-gay protest (Nairobi News)
When nothing came of the promised protest, almost no one remarked how hollow the party’s promises had been.
A similar pattern unfolded last year when the Republican Liberty Party announced a proposal for a crueler anti-homosexuality law than Kenya’s unenforced current law, which allow up to 14 in prison for same-sex intimacy.
The Republican Liberty Party in August 2014 proposed a law that would impose death by stoning as a punishment for same-sex relations between non-Kenyans, with a life sentence as the punishment for Kenyans. That proposal was immediately dismissed by the parliament’s Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
But that did not happen before international media reported extensively on the proposal:
- Bill to Stone Gays to Death Introduced in Kenya (Religion Dispatches)
- Kenya: Draft Bill Proposes Stoning to Death of Gay People (HRC)
- Kenyan MP proposes ‘Stone the Gays To Death’ Bill (Gay Star News)
- Kenya: New ‘stone the gays’ law proposed by MPs (PinkNews)
- Kenya: New Bill Wants Gays Stoned in Public (allAfrica.com)
- Kenya considers harsh penalties against gays (LGBTQ Nation)
- This is why I want gays stoned to death (Daily Nation)
- Obama: one of many opposed to Kenya’s anti-gay policies (76crimes.com)
- Kenya buzzing with anti-gay worries as it awaits Obama’s visit (76crimes.com)
- Obama in Kenya: ‘Treat people equally under the law’ (76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay Kenyans fear upcoming Obama visit (76crimes.com)
- Tiny Kenyan party seeks stoning, life in prison for gay sex (76crimes.com)