(New York - C-FAM) The UN population agency’s plans to host a government conference on “sexual and reproductive health” in Kenya backfired this week, as Kenyans fought back attempts to export Western sexual norms in Africa.
The UN Population Fund’s Nairobi Summit was greeted by pro-life street protests and accusations of neocolonialism. The Kenyan legislature forbade UNFPA access to the chamber of Parliament and Members pledged to amend a foreign NGO law to restrict the promotion of anti-family and anti-life programs.
Far from providing the optic that Africans embrace abortion, LGBT rights, and comprehensive sexuality education, the Nairobi Summit galvanized resistance to UN sexual norms. Kenyan government officials, faith leaders, and pro-family organizations emerged as a formidable opponent to the powerful and well-funded UN agency.
Kenyans were made aware of the conference when members from a prominent conservative organization based in Nairobi – the Kenyan Christian Professional Forum, organized a television debate with UNFPA representatives which sparked outrage among Kenyan citizens.
The Catholic Bishops of Kenya joined opposition and issued a statement condemning the “hidden agenda” of the conference.
“We reject the introduction of these ideologies centered on gender, and other alien practices, which go against our African culture and our religious heritage. We view this agenda as an intent to corrupt our Youth and enslave them to foreign ideologies.”
The backlash to the conference had political repercussions before the conference even started. Growing tensions among Kenyans forced President Kenyatta to address concerns and defend the decision to host the Summit.
“We will not take wholesome everything that comes with the conference. We will end what we think discriminates against our fellow citizens but reject totally what is against our culture and morals,” said Kenyatta.
Needing an African backdrop to promote its controversial agenda UNFPA and Denmark solicited the government of Kenya to host the conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. The Summit was held outside the General Assembly in an attempt to gather support for a new set of controversial political commitments drafted in consultation with a steering committee consisting of global pro-abortion organizations like International Planned Parenthood Federation, SheDecides, and Women Deliver.
Alongside universally agreed goals like ending maternal death and eliminating female-genital mutilation the conference included commitments about a “right to abortion” in humanitarian settings, expanding “sexual and reproductive health” to include LGBT rights, and access to sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education for children without parental consent.
“Africa is not for sale. African women do not need to sacrifice their children to be empowered,” Anne Kioko, Campaign Director for CitizenGo Africa told the Friday Fax.
Tweet This: “Africa is not for sale. African women do not need to sacrifice their children to be empowered.”
Over 80,000 Kenyans signed a petition from CitizenGo protesting the conference which was delivered to President Kenyatta on Monday. Many of them staged protests in the streets and remained outside the conference as it was being held.
Desperate to control the narrative coming out of the Summit and to limit criticism the conference organizers blocked conservatives from attending.
Several Kenyan pro-life organizations were also prohibited from attending the Summit. Kenyan pro-life leaders held a parallel conference at the Catholic University of East Africa and Kenya Catholic Archdiocese to provide a different perspective on the topics addressed within UN conferences. Organizations from Europe, Mexico, and United States that were denied Summit accreditation accepted invitations to participate.
The parallel conference included a high-level intergovernmental event with government representatives of the United States, Hungary, Poland, Brazil, Kenya and the Holy See Nuncio. They affirmed their governments commitment to policy that foster strong families and protects unborn life and criticized UNFPA for going beyond the mandate established at the ICPD 25 years ago.
Editor's note: Lisa Correnti writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. This article appears with permission.