May 20, 2024 | Health Justice


LGBTQ+, HIV Activists Demand U.S. Accountability on Human Rights in Kenya Ahead of President Ruto’s State Visit

Asia Russell (Health GAP): +1 267 475 2645 |

While LGBTQ+ Persecution Increases in Kenya, Ruto Seeks Major Deals with Coca-Cola and other U.S. Companies Lauded for Pro-LGBTQ+ Workplace Policies   

(Washington, D.C.) Human rights organizations called on the Biden administration to honor his promise to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people worldwide, and take action on human rights ahead of Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit starting May 22 in Washington, D.C. 

Biden, who has made U.S. and global LGBTQ+ rights a cornerstone of his reelection campaign, is celebrating President Ruto at a time when anti-LGBTQ+ violence and persecution are surging in Kenya, fueled by extremist religious right organizations based in the U.S. Lawmakers are also pushing for the “Family Protection Bill,” anti-LGBTQI+ legislation currently sitting in Kenya’s National Assembly. The bill prescribes severe penalties, including 50-years in prison for being LGBTQI+ people, as well as draconian penalties for “promotion of homosexuality,” which would make support for the human rights of queer people a criminal act. 

“President Ruto wants to leave the United States with deals from the Biden Administration and multinational corporations,” said Aly Bancroft, Health GAP Associate Director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy. “President Biden must honor his commitments and policies on advancing human rights and decriminalization of LGBTQI+ people. There must be consequences for anti-LGBTQI+ hate. People’s lives are on the line. Human rights must not be a bargaining chip on the tables of trade and security agreements.” While anti-queer attacks have escalated, the U.S. has continued pursuing a bilateral trade partnership with the country, with the latest round of formal negotiations concluding May 17. 

Prior to his arrival in Washington, Ruto will meet senior health officials in Atlanta at CDC, and will likely announce business deals with multinational corporations including Coca Cola, which has a major presence in Kenya. Coca Cola’s commitments to protecting the human rights of LGBTQI+ people in its companies in Kenya would become criminal if Kenya’s anti-LGBTQI+ bill is passed into law. 

This Bill has spurred human rights threats and vigilante violence in the East African country, with the United Nations noting an increase in the violations of rights of LGBTQI+ Kenyans. More than 10 clinics and organizations funded by the U.S. government and the Global Fund that once served LGBTQI+ people have closed, due to dangers faced by staff and patients. 

“Kenya’s response to HIV is being severely undermined by LGBTQI+ criminalization,” said Brian Macharia, Health GAP’s Senior Coordinator for Health Justice and Human Rights. “President Biden claims to be a champion for LGBTQI+ human rights, but he is celebrating a special relationship with President Ruto at a time when Ruto is allowing queer Kenyans to be put at extreme risk. It is unacceptable for Biden to deprioritize the humanity and dignity of LGBTQI+ Kenyans in this moment of crisis.”    

Similar bills have proliferated across the continent, from Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which includes the death penalty for LGBTQI individuals and 20 years’ imprisonment for “promotion of homosexuality,” to a bill passed by Ghana’s Parliament February 28 that outlaws would increase punishments for LGBTQI+ people, and criminalize anyone who publishes or shares content about being LGBTQI+.