The U.S. embassy in Kenya hosted an LGBT pride event Tuesday, believed to be the first ever held in the nation.
The event was a “small invite-only forum,” attended by “activists, allies, and diplomats,” Voice of America reports, but was nonetheless a milestone. It, like pride observances being held at other U.S. embassies around the world, is part of the Obama administration’s effort to fight anti-LGBT discrimination.
“The U.S. government for its part has made it clear that the advancement of human rights for LGBT people is central to our human rights policies around the world and to the realization of our foreign policy goals,” said John Haynes, a public affairs officer at the embassy in Nairobi, in opening the event.
MaqC Gitau, general manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, acknowledged the forum’s groundbreaking nature. “What makes this day stand out for us here in Kenya … is that more than anything else, it is about visibility,” he said.
Some LGBT activists feared the event would cause backlash, and some accused the U.S. of cultural imperialism, according to Gay Star News. Others, however, welcomed the event. “The fact that the U.S. embassy has taken the initiative to invite me and other LGBTQI people shows they are reaching out, and I am going to the event to show support and to show solidarity,” said Denis Nzioka, editor of the LGBT Identity Magazine.