Meta is cracking down on influential senior government officials in Kenya for sharing homophobic posts on their social media pages.
The latest person against whom the U.S.-based social media company has cracked down is second lady Dorcas Rigathi, whose husband is Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
Her Facebook page with about 200,000 followers was deactivated last Friday over an anti-homosexuality post. It was restored on Monday.
An official in the Spouse of the Deputy President’s office who the Washington Blade contacted on Wednesday did not provide details about discussions with Meta that led to the account’s restoration with the same homophobic content.
Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura also could not comment on Meta’s action, despite requesting the questions. President William Ruto during Kenya’s Independence Day celebration on Tuesday revealed he had spoken with the company and agreed to monetize content for creators.
The temporary account deactivation for violating the company’s community standards was in response to a book launch event with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s daughter, Patience Rwabwogo, on Tuesday in Nairobi where the second lady, an evangelical pastor, stated that “LGBTQ does not have a place in Africa.”
Meta’s community policies consider sexual orientation among the “protected characteristics,” along with religious affiliation, sex and gender identity that are categorized under hate speech when violated.
Gachagua spoke in expressing her solidarity with Rwabwogo, who is also a pastor, and Ugandans against sanctions the U.S. has imposed against Kampala and several government officials over the enactment of the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that is being challenged in court.
This is after Rwabwogo, who was launching her religious book, requested the gathering full of clerics for divine intervention over the sanctions as her husband, Odrek Rwabwogo, who is one of Museveni’s advisors, prepared to visit Washington to defend Uganda’s stance on LGBTQ rights and the looming expulsion from a program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to trade duty-free with the U.S.
“The reason why Uganda is being targeted over LGBTQ is because the enemy always wants to divide, conquer and isolate,” Rwabwogo said. “This worked very well in the time of colonialism and the church has to stand as one and say you are not going to divide and isolate us.”
Dorcas Rigathi stated “it is better not to have trade but have our integrity and our morality” and called for unity “as Africa” to prevail over LGBTQ issues.
“We have been divided by imaginary boundaries and stories about Africa,” she said. “Who knows more about Africa than you? Who knows Africa and its greatness more than ourselves? The African problems will be solved by Africans.”
“I say that one (LGBTQ), I’m not there and it should not happen and it must never happen and we will continue saying that,” added Dorcas Rigathi.
A day after her Meta deactivated her account, Dorcas Rigathi, who has been a fierce anti-homosexuality campaigner since the Kenyan Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in February that allowed the National Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission to register as an NGO, maintained she won’t be intimidated to change her stand on LGBTQ issues.
“I stand for what God wants us to do,” she said. “Constitutionally it is a marriage between a man and a woman, not a man and a man, or woman and a woman. Our culture also says no to LGBTQ. And that is my conviction and that is what my God has said.”
Dorcas Rigathi, however, noted “if others want to do in their countries and if that is what their god says let them do, we respect them.”
A group of Muslim religious leaders in Mombasa who condemned the West for what they describe as imposing homosexuality on Kenyans against their society’s values and the holy books, welcomed Dorcas Rigathi’s anti-LGBTQ position.
Dorcas Rigathi is the second top Kenyan official to have Meta deactivate their Facebook account over anti-LGBTQ posts.
Meta in March permanently disabled Former Nairobi City Gov. Mike Sonko’s Facebook account, which had nearly 2.5 million followers. The U.S. in the same month banned him and his family from traveling to the U.S. because of corruption allegations.
Sonko in his anti-LGBTQ Facebook post had demanded the prohibition of homosexuality in Kenya “before it messes our young generation.” He was asked to apologize to the queer community before appealing to Meta for the restoration of his account but the defiant ex-governor vowed not to apologize.
The deactivation of Sonko’s account came barely a month after Instagram, which Meta owns, banned the account of Daddy Owen, a popular gospel singer, over homophobic comments.
Sonko last Friday sympathized with Dorcas Rigathi after Meta disabled her account.
“Let’s embrace our African culture by appreciating marriage and love between man and woman, not same-sex marriage or sex,” he said, recalling how he also lost his official account for expressing “my concerns against those pushing for recognition of LGBTQ rights in Kenya.”
Sonko opined Kenya is a “God-fearing country” that won’t be “Sodom and Gomorrah for even a day.”