IN SHORT: A supreme court ruling on freedom of association for the gay community has dominated public debate in Kenya since February 2023. But an altered video appearing to show the US president making controversial comments about transgender women continues to be shared on WhatsApp.
A video posted on Twitter on 27 February 2023 under the hashtag #SayNoToLGBTQinKENYA shows US president Joe Biden allegedly condemning the LGBTQI community.
LGBTQI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.
In the video, Biden says: “You will never be a real woman. You have no womb, you have no ovaries, you have no eggs. You are a homosexual man, twisted by drugs and surgery into a crude mockery of nature’s perfection. All the validation you get is two-faced and half-hearted. Behind your back, people mock you. Your parents are disgusted and ashamed of you. Your friends laugh at your ghoulish appearance behind closed doors. Men are utterly repulsed by you.”
The hateful and graphic comments against transgender women continue in the 95-second video. (Read the full transcript).
The video is still making the rounds in Kenya on WhatsApp, the popular messaging service.
It has also been posted here, here, here and here on Twitter.
But did Biden make these comments?
Kenyan supreme court ruling supports gay rights
The clip began circulating on social media after Kenya’s supreme court on 24 February 2023 upheld a petition for the country’s non-governmental organisations regulator, the NGOs Coordination Board, to register LGBTQI organisations.
The court battle began in 2013, when Eric Gitari, former executive director for the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission challenged a ruling that prevented the group from registering as an NGO.
The supreme court judges ruled that the NGO board was wrong to prevent the gay and lesbian rights commission from registering as a legal entity in 2013.
They all said that all Kenyans, including members of sexual minorities, were protected from discrimination under Article 27 of the Kenyan constitution.
Homosexuality is still criminalised in Kenya.
The supreme court ruling came on the same day that Joe Biden’s wife Jill Biden arrived in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Her visit was aimed at deepening ties with Africa but was claimed to have influenced the court ruling.
The verdict sparked heated debate across the country.
Manipulated video, audio fake
Africa Check searched for the speech in the White House transcripts to confirm whether Biden had made such comments, but we could find no evidence.
A reverse image search of frames from the video clip using the verification tool InVid-WeVerify search tool showed visually similar images from videos uploaded on 25 January.
The video was posted on YouTube by CNN, the US cable news network and the Telegraph, a British news site.
The US president can be seen in both the manipulated and original videos wearing the same clothes and with the same flags behind him.
We also noticed Biden's movements, such as scratching his forehead, which clearly shows that it's the same clip, with the audio altered.
In the original video Biden spoke about his government’s continued support for the country of Ukraine. During his speech, he did not make any comments criticising transgender people or being transphobic. Biden has been largely supportive of LGBTQI rights.
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