Africa Group Scolds Obama for Ignoring LGBT, Conflict Issues in Upcoming Trip

African Advocacy groups question if Obama will be doing enough for the continent during his trip.

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(Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
'The president expects it will be handled the way it should be at the DOJ,' said White House spokesman Jay Carney during his daily press briefing.

In anticipation of President Barack Obama's controversial trip to Africa this week, African advocacy groups question if the president will be doing enough for the continent during his visit.

Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations of Amnesty International, said President Obama is forcing critical issues out of the limelight by focusing solely on economic and trade relations.

[READ: Obama's Africa Trip Draws Ire]

At a panel hosted Monday by the Advocacy Network for Africa, a nonprofit group promoting African growth, Akwei said the environment, women's issues and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Africa are being ignored by Obama. Homophobia and transphobia are institutionalized through laws criminalizing homosexual behavior, he said. Laws targeting the LGBT community are currently enforced in more than 30 African countries.

Dev Kar, Chief Economist at Global Financial Integrity, said promoting governmental transparency should be a priority for Obama, in addition to economic concerns. For every dollar of African aid, $10 gets funneled into illegal activities, Kar said.

Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, pushed for demilitarization and conflict resolution.

[ALSO: Obama Walks Tightrope on Gay Rights in Africa]

"Africa is the continent for the 21st century," Woods said. "Africa is on the move; Africa is rising. The U.S. must and should be a part of that."

Obama, along with first lady, Michelle and daughters, Malia and Sasha, will visit Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. This will be the first official trip solely to Africa for the president.

 

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