US President Barack Obama has criticised African governments’ treatment of its LGBTI citizens in a speech during his visit to Kenya over the weekend.

Comparing homophobia to racial discrimination, Obama said the state had no right to punish people because of “who they love”.

“I’ve been consistent all across Africa on this,” he said in a joint press conference at the state house in Nairobi.

“I believe in the principal of treating people equally under the law, and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.

“When you start treating people differently, because they’re different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode.

“When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly disagreed with Obama’s statements.

“There are some things that we must admit we don’t share,” Kenyatta said.

“It is very difficult for us to be able to impose upon people that, which they themselves, do not accept. insisting that gay rights “is not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans.”

According to a UN human rights report, homosexuality in Kenya is “largely considered to be taboo and repugnant to [the] cultural values and morality”, and same-sex sexual acts are punishable as crimes by the government.

Despite this, there are various organisations in the country that work to protect and improve LGBT rights.

Watch the speech below:

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