Obama walks tightrope on gay rights in Africa

Associated Press
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June 25, 2013

A young man wearing rainbow suspenders entered the heavily-guarded residence of the United States ambassador to Ivory Coast. So did a transgender woman in a ruffled, purple gown, as well as seven men wearing matching baby blue pants and neckties. The U.S. embassy here made history earlier this month by hosting a gay pride reception attended by about two dozen openly gay Ivorians. Despite the groundbreaking nature of the event, reporters were barred from attending, and the only mention of it was a short blurb on the embassy website posted the following week. The handling of the event encapsulates the Obama administration's cautious promotion of gay rights in Africa, an issue that is likely to come up during his visit this week to three African nations — South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania — the last two of which punish homosexuality with jail time.