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CWA’s Senior Advisor for Foreign Affairs Addresses Christianity in Iraq

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In America, we trace our Christian heritage to before the founding of our nation, when European Christians sought a home free from religious persecution where they could practice their faith according to their own convictions.  But in the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, Christianity has very old roots stemming from the 1st century A.D., even before the birth of Islam in early 600 A.D.

In spite of their roots, Iraqi Christian communities began to steadily decline after the birth of Islam, a decline which has continued throughout the past century.  According to an article in the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy[1], Christian populations in Iraq declined significantly between 1910 and 2010, falling from 6.3% to 1.4% of the population.  And by 2025, that number is estimated to fall to .6%.

Since June 2014, ISIS has brought a particularly bloody decline to Iraqi Christian populations with an onslaught labeled as “genocide”[2] by former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016. The genocide has involved the murder of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims (other religious minority groups) under the control of ISIS, Thousands of families have been killed, taken hostage, kidnapped, and driven out of Iraq.  Currently, there are only an estimated 200,000 Christians left in Iraq.

Speaking at a meeting about the future of Iraq’s Christians in September 2017, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin said the “conflicts and tensions of recent years represent a risk … for the survival of Christians”.  He continued to point out that also at risk is the hope and “possibility that the Middle East can be a place of coexistence between peoples belonging to different religious and ethnic groups.” [3]

Where does the U.S. government stand on the issue of persecuted religious minorities in Iraq? At an advocacy summit in Washington, D.C., on October 25 of last year, Vice President Mike Pence said that America will “stand with those who suffer for their faith because that’s what Americans have always done (and) the common bond of our humanity demands a strong response.” He said also the United Nations has “too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities” and that the U.S. will take a stronger lead in directly guiding funds to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. [4]

The Trump administration recently announced a renegotiated deal with the U.N. that purports to ensure that religious minorities will receive the U.N. assistance they were previously denied. This deal directs $55 million to the U.N. Development Program Funding Facility for Stabilization in Iraq for religious minority communities in the Nineveh Province of Iraq.  However Nina Shea, international human-rights lawyer and Director for the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, has little hope that these funds will actually reach the needy populations in Nineveh.  In an article in The Christian Post, Shea cites the gross mismanagement of the UNDP and its deliberate marginalization of the “genocide that targeted Christian and Yezidi minorities for over the past two years”.[5]  Meanwhile, time lags on while thousands of families suffer in inadequate refugee living situations.

Over the next few months, Concerned Women for America will watch to see if and when the allotted resources are directed to help Christian and other religious minorities in Iraq rebuild their homes, families, and lives.  Pray that God would help them heal and for the wisdom of our nation in providing support for them.

[1] Johnson, T and Zurlo, G. Ongoing Exodus: Tracking the Emigration of Christians from the Middle East. Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, 2013-2014, Volume III. Population statistics are taken from a table created by the World Religion Database.

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/politics/us-iraq-syria-genocide/index.html

[3] https://acnuk.org/news/iraq-cardinal-highlights-threat-to-christianity/

[4] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/25/mike-pence-us-rely-faith-based-groups-over-united/

[5] https://www.christianpost.com/news/trump-designates-55-million-help-christians-religious-minorities-rebuild-iraq-213575/

Statement of Penny Nance on the Passing of Rev. Bill Graham

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Washington, D.C. — The world woke to the news that Reverend Billy Graham had passed to his eternal reward. Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), had this to say:

“Concerned Women for America joins the Graham family today as they mourn the loss of the great Reverend Billy Graham. We are now a nation without a pastor, and we pray for the man whom God will raise up in his stead. Rev. Graham lived an extraordinary life marked by his passion for reaching those who did not know the name of Jesus. His reverence, integrity, service, and dedication to the ministry of Christ touched millions of lives around the world, including many CWA members. It is not uncommon to hear stories of God’s mighty transformation in the life of many that turn on the phrase, ‘then I went to a Billy Graham crusade.’

“While we mourn the loss of a man who left an indelible print of love and service in our world, we also know there is a beautiful homecoming taking place in Heaven. When asked once if he feared death, Rev. Graham simply answered, ‘No! I look forward to death with great anticipation. I’m looking forward to seeing God face to face.’

“Billy Graham was a true man of God, and his legacy and ministry will continue to impact future generations. We praise God for his life!”

 

Phony Liberal Outrage on Full Display

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

Liberals are in disarray. They are only united in their hatred of Trump, but little else. And it is showing regularly in Congress these days.

Just a few days ago, after President Trump presented a consensus budget deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) broke into a tantrum on the House floor, staging a record-breaking, eight-hour speech to protest the deal. All the while in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) celebrated the bi-partisan agreement as “the best thing [they]’ve done” for the middle class and the economy.

Schumer tried to unite with Pelosi in calling for a “fair and open process” to debate immigration. But, lo and behold, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) seems to have called their bluff, because that is precisely what he gave them.  This week, they tried to debate immigration, in a fair and open process, to the objection of (wait for it) Sen. Schumer and his liberal colleagues.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Same chaos can be seen on judicial nominations where Democrats, who were the “avant-garde” party while former-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) shattered any scintilla of tradition and broke the rules to abolish the filibuster for President Obama nominees, now want to pretend to care for senate “tradition.” Democrats got the nominees they wanted, and Reid was praised as a hero by the same senators who are now up in arms about upholding the tradition of “blue slips” today.

This is a practice where both senators from the judicial nominee’s home state are sent a “blue slip” by which they can submit favorable or unfavorable opinions about the nominee. The judiciary committee would wait to receive the blue slip to proceed on a nominee.

But having abolished the filibuster for judicial nominees to advance their preferred judicial nominees under President Obama, Democrats were hoping Republicans would allow them to abuse the blue slip process to effectively filibuster President Trump’s nominees.

Enter Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has rightfully refused to allow Democrats to abuse blue slips to get away with filibustering well-qualified nominees for partisan reasons. He is to be commended.

 

Sure, Democrats will make a stink about it, but as we have seen, they will make a stink about anything and everything because, well, Trump.

They’ll yell that they want to debate immigration, and when the debate starts, they’ll protest the debate of immigration. They’ll call for a bi-partisan budget deal and then filibuster the deal. All because, “Trump is horrible, and how can we allow this? And people will die, and the end is near.”

Chairman Grassley and Leader McConnell must be strong in ignoring the theatrics and proceed along with the business of bettering the lives of the American people.

The quality of judicial nominees we have seen from the White House is exemplary — second to none. These judges are desperately needed, and the American people will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

The mainstream media will no doubt work hard to promote the liberal narrative, but their credibility continues to suffer as a result. The American people can see through it all.

Be Your Valentine

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It’s that time of year again, with grossly overpriced roses, chocolates, gift certificates to everything from day spas to fancy restaurants — Happy Valentine’s Day! Of course, it’s only happy if you’ve got that special someone, or if you’re part of the burgeoning movement of young singles who celebrate with their other single friends.

But even if you do celebrate with the love of your life or your BFFs, there are many for whom happiness and love exists only at the surface level. Increasingly these days, many women — and men, for that matter — experience a just-under-the-surface feeling of loathing and hatred for themselves. And a good number of those act on these feelings by engaging in self-harm.

The most well-known form of self-harm is cutting, but according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), self-harm is “hurting yourself on purpose,” and even the urge to hurt yourself all on its own is “a sign of emotional distress.”

Self-harm is not a mental illness, though. It is simply a symptom of a larger issue. It is a symptom of pain and the inability to cope or deal with that pain. It is, in essence, a release of pent-up emotion. In the case of cutting, NAMI reports that “injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising [your] mood.” But then the feeling of shame and guilt comes, and you’re down in the dumps again. It’s a vicious cycle.

A person who self-harms is not necessarily seeking to commit suicide; however, such individuals do have an increased risk of having suicidal thoughts.

If this is you, or if this is one of your friends, please seek help. There are better ways to cope with the pain. Thousands of people seek counseling, and it helps. I was one of those who would never have considered counseling, but my daughter went through a very rough patch in her life, and counseling did help her a great deal. In fact, I’m convinced it saved her life.

Ultimately, it gave her what she needed most — coping skills. “Instead of cutting myself, I will [blank] … And when these feelings arise, I will [blank] instead of hurting myself.” That doesn’t mean the urges aren’t there; it simply means she deals with the pain in a more constructive way.

For those who loathe and hate themselves, there’s nearly always an underlying reason — but it might be a reason they neither know, nor understand. As Christians, we’re taught to “love one another,” and “love others as Jesus loves you.” But the most difficult command is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I mean, if you hate yourself, how do you love your neighbor?

Loving yourself is hard — and nearly impossible at times — but it’s possible, because it’s a posture of the heart. It has been said that children aren’t born racist; they learn it from someone. In the same way, nobody is born hating themselves. Something happens, usually in childhood, and it’s an emotional burden that becomes too large for a child to process. This leads to the child blaming themselves for the event and turning their anger inward on themselves. Years later, you have an individual who self-loathes and self-harms and may not even understand why.

So today, if this is you, the first step is to seek help. If it’s your friend, urge them to seek help. In the meantime, learn to love yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and say, “You’re not horrible. You’re not a monster. You’re okay. … And I love you.”

I guarantee it’ll be the hardest thing you’ve done. You may not even be able to look yourself in the face as you say it. And you definitely won’t believe yourself the first time. In fact, as you’re saying it, you may feel pent-up frustration and feel like this is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. But look in the mirror. You’re standing there giving it a try. Somewhere deep inside, you’ll realize you need this. And you’ll probably have to force yourself to say, “I love you.” As much as you may want to, do not skip this part. Say it even if you don’t mean it.

Do this every couple of days, and you’ll find it getting easier. Most of us self-loathers have to “fake it, till you make it,” but that moment will come.

So today, treat yourself right for a change. Show yourself some affection. Spoil yourself. Set aside whatever it is you usually use to harm yourself, and buy something for yourself.

Today, be your Valentine.

 

Pray for our Press

By | LBB, National Sovereignty, News and Events | No Comments

The mainstream media suicide continues. It is incredibly sad to watch. It is extremely troubling, especially when you think about the role and purpose it is supposed to serve. This weekend’s coverage of North Korea by many outlets was simply disgraceful. It is now a proven, tangible, quantifiable, irrefutable fact that you cannot trust the press.

It goes well beyond bias. Americans can see the press hates President Trump and Vice President Pence. But to prop up a murderous, oppressive regime like North Korea for the sake of embarrassing current U.S. leadership is just foolish, unnecessary, and malicious. You would think they’d be on guard and fully prepared to engage the spurious regime, but no. It seems they are willfully going along with North Korea’s deceit, because it is useful to them in “the resistance.”

Take this CNN piece by Will Ripley headlining, “Pence’s Olympic trip a ‘missed opportunity’ for North Korea diplomacy, source says.” The source? A single “senior diplomatic source close to North Korea.” The lone sub-heading in the story highlights Vice President Pence’s, “Undignified behavior” – again, based on the unnamed source close to North Korea.

Reuters added, “North Korea heads for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics,” in their coverage.

The media gushed over North Korea’s forced cheerleaders and over dictator Kim Jong-un’s sister, whom the Washington Post headlined the “Ivanka Trump of North Korea.” Not to be outdone, The New York Times tweeted: “Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un’s sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy.”

How embarrassing. But please understand, these outlets only harm their readers and patrons, not the supposed object of their collective loathing, President Donald J. Trump.

I speak generally, of course.  There are individuals trying to fight against this.

Reporter Salena Zito tweeted, “I am deeply saddened by how my profession has normalized and glamorized this murderous regime. And then we wonder why no one trusts us.”

Jack Tapper of CNN also noticed the slant tweeting, “If you hate US leaders more than you hate the Kim Jong-un regime, you really need to read up on North Korea.”

It is simply remarkable how little regard for the reality of North Korea the press has shown.  The family of murdered American Otto Warmbier was with Vice President Pence at the opening ceremony for crying out loud. Is it possible they are unsympathetic to them simply because they are associated now with President Trump after accepting his invitation to the State of the Union Address? It’s unconscionable, but very possible.

Let me conclude by asking you to join me in prayer for the press. It is an institution like any other, made up of individuals who must make individual choices, even as they face the pressures of their peers, their bosses, their sponsors, and the industry as a whole.  Let us pray for God to place more people of good will, interested in pursuing truth and able to stand against the pressures of the profession, in important journalism posts.

The current radical, liberal political drive against Trump is killing the press. But we cannot give up on the institution. We must seek to reform it for good.

May God hear our prayers.


Mario Diaz, Esq. is Concerned Women for America’s legal counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

CWA in the Budget Battle

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The house and senate again failed to agree on spending language by the midnight deadline, therefore shutting down the government for a few hours overnight. President Trump signed the continuing resolution into law a few hours later, but the spending battle is far from over.

This spending bill was paired with defense spending and a large relief fund for hurricane victims. Many of our faithful grassroots leaders were impacted by the hurricane, and we all remember stories of communities and churches coming together to help each other rebuild. Houses of worship were not immune from the impacts of the hurricane, and they should also be eligible for aid. The President himself noted this. Finally, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 includes language allowing for houses of worship and religious schools to be eligible for FEMA disaster aid. We will continue to work with House and Senate leadership to assure this provision makes it through the budget process.

You’ve Gotta Love Gerber

By | LBB, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

No, I’m not a paid spokesperson for Gerber. However, in case you haven’t heard, Gerber chose one-year-old Lucas Warren from Dalton, Georgia, as its 2018 Gerber baby.  What’s so special about that? Lucas is the first child with Down syndrome to be chosen.

Well done, Gerber!

Whether they know it or not, Gerber is showing the beauty and worth of children with Down syndrome at a time when they are being targeted for extermination because of their disability. I want to take a moment and publicly thank the company for such a benevolent gesture.

It might not seem like much, but to affirm the intrinsic value of all human life requires courage in our day and age.

Gerber is not merely being charitable with their pick. One look at baby Lucas, and anyone can easily see that this is a special child whose smile represents the best of our humanity. Check out this interview on the Today Show:

 

Bill Partyka, CEO and president of Gerber, said, “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby. This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”

Lucas’ mom, Cortney, said, “We’re hoping when he grows up and looks back on this, he’ll be proud of himself and not ashamed of his disability.”

What beautiful words. May God bless this mother and family, and especially this baby boy.

This story reminds us of the transcendent truth that we are all created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). It is He who gives life. “He made us, and not we ourselves,” (Psalm 100:3). Therefore, when we respect and celebrate each other, we respect and celebrate our Maker.

When we celebrate Lucas, we celebrate God.


Mario Diaz, Esq. is Concerned Women for America’s legal counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

CWA at Walk for Life West Coast

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This past weekend, tens of thousands of Pro-Lifers gathered together at the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, California. Concerned Women for America and Young Women for America leaders and members were able to walk for the millions of babies who were never given a chance to do so. We stood with our brothers and sisters of different faiths, denominations, races, and ethnicities and prayed. We prayed for lives to be spared. We prayed for mothers who enter into clinics. We prayed for abortion clinic workers and doctors. We prayed for revived hearts in our communities and across our country to see the value of life and the pain of abortion. We prayed for those who live in guilt or grief over a lost son, daughter, grandson, niece, brother or sister. We prayed for those around us who were hurting.

As we finished praying and began filling the street, groups of people began worshiping in their different languages. The entire march down Market Street was inspiring and humbling. We walked shoulder-to-shoulder with women carrying signs that read, “I regret my abortion.” As we approached Fifth Street, San Francisco police officers lined the street and created a wall between counter-protestors and the walk. Walking in San Francisco was a much different experience compared to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.  Grotesque signs, chants, screaming, sirens, and police officers made for a much more tension-filled walked.

Strong, shameless rhetoric lined the street plastered on signs and banners. The phrase we saw the most reads, “FREE ABORTION ON DEMAND WITHOUT APOLOGY.” However, the one that struck me the most, which I have seen many other times, says, “ABORTION SAVES LIVES.” I read that and stood still for a few moments. I looked around at the two sides and the police in between us. I felt the tension, the hurt, the anger. It was tangible.

These past few weeks have been heart-wrenching for many of us on the CWA staff. We have heard countless stories from women who have had abortions, from nurses who have helped perform them, and from children who have survived them. We have cried with these women and men.

And we will not give up. It is for our courageous leaders and supporters who have experienced loss that we continue to fight. In the midst of so much pain, there is HOPE. There is an abundance of peace, comfort and hope found in Jesus.

We have hope.

Obama-Era State Department Leftovers: Re-direct LGBTI Cultural Acceptance Funding

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In the beginning, God made man and woman in His own likeness—two distinct sexes each with unique and special characteristics—and declared His creation “good”. Who could have anticipated that this God-given and inherent identity of gender and sex would be so debated, twisted, and redefined by the liberal left today? Even more incredible is that the U.S government under Obama-era policies, not content with promoting multiple gender and sexual “identities” within the U.S., spends millions of tax dollars promoting Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Inquiring (LGBTI) cultural acceptance into foreign countries under the guise of “gender development” and “human rights”.

As Americans, regardless of whether or not we agree with a person’s sexual or gender “orientation”, we strongly believe in supporting the human rights of all people around the world and applaud the efforts of our government in this regard. That is, the right of a people to seek fulfillment of their basic needs, to feed and clothe themselves, to fully participate in society, and to be defended against human rights abuses such as violence, killing, wrongful discrimination, and false imprisonment. To be clear, we strongly support any programming which condemns the abuse of people who identify themselves as LGBTI and which builds the capacity within countries to treat all people equally and with human dignity.

However, currently the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) promote LGBT cultural and social acceptance within foreign countries through taxpayer-funded programs that extend far beyond the context of basic human rights. Rather, these programs encourage the exploration of gender and sexual identity, and promote multiple identities/orientations as a “progressive” value. These programs are backed by a political agenda begun during the Obama Administration and continue today in spite of the differing viewpoint of the Trump administration.

Recently, Concerned Women for America met with a Trump-appointed USAID senior official to express the concern that these programs contradict the priorities of foreign assistance and damage our relationship with foreign peoples. We base are concern on four main points:

  • First, these programs turn gender development funding and programming away from increasing the wellbeing of women and girls around the world. This is unfortunate, especially considering that initiatives protecting the rights of females and advancing their participation in the social, economic, and political spheres are severely lacking in support and funding. To consider: While millions of people are victims of human trafficking each year, 50% of whom are women and 21% of whom are girls under the age of 18[1], and while 41% of girls in the least developed countries are married before the age of 18,[2] the U.S. is funding homosexual and transgender cultural acceptance into foreign countries under the name of gender development. We at Concerned Women for America consider this taxpayer money that is not well spent.
  • Second, these programs and initiatives violate the conscience, culture, values and religious beliefs of the majority of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian people in the countries we propose to “support” with U.S. aid.
  • Third, as taxpayer funded programs, these programs should represent the values of the majority of American citizens, but unfortunately they do not.
  • And fourth, there is little to no scientific research to show that the cultural socialization of LGBT values abroad contributes to foreign policy goals or even the developmental objectives of USAID’s Guiding Principles.

As was explained to CWA during the meeting at USAID, many of these programs have been left over from the previous administration and will remain until their contract runs out. Simply put, just because a new administration takes office, it does not mean that current programming will immediately expire or change. However, CWA wants our constituents to be aware of how foreign taxpayer dollars are currently spent and to know that we are monitoring the progress of the potential change in the focus of U.S. development aid and foreign relations. For example, the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism is currently seeking a nonprofit to “explore gender identities of boys and men in Kenya”, stating that men being “tough, heterosexual, aggressive, unemotional, and achieving” increases their vulnerability to joining groups of Islamic extremism. [3]

Concerned Women for America urges our government to strongly oppose human rights abuses against LGBT communities but also to no longer entangle U.S. tax dollars with LGBT cultural issues overseas through U.S. embassies, schools, and international programming. We ask that our tax dollars be redirected toward objectives that focus more clearly on U.S. foreign diplomacy and developmental goals. We ask that our “gender empowerment” tax dollars be used to promote policies and programs which best support the rights and wellbeing of females around the world. Last, we ask that State and USAID-funded programs be representative of the majority of the values and beliefs of Americans and of the foreign cultures which we support.

The following is only a small part of LGBT activist efforts on behalf of the U.S. government. According to the Obama White House Fact Sheet from June 2016: [4]

  • The U.S. Department of State … “launched two global funding partnerships – the Global Equality Fund and the LGBT Global Development Partnership – which have provided millions of dollars in assistance … to LGBT civil society activists and organizations” (emphasis added). The Global Equality Fund alone spent more than $30 million dollars in 80 countries.
  • Multiple departments and agencies, including State, USAID, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and the Peace Corps, provide training “for staff and implementing partners to better understand the issues of gender identity and sexual orientation and agency roles in advancing the human rights of LGBT persons”.
  • U.S. embassies, consulates, USAID missions, and Department of Defense installations around the world host and participate in gay pride events, and march in gay pride parades. U.S. embassies around the world fly rainbow flags to show homosexual pride support.

Currently, USAID supports a large number of field- and Washington-based programs and funding avenues that are LGBT-specific or LGBT-inclusive, including within schools in developing countries.  These programs are based on the principles written in the 23-page USAID policy document titled “LGBTI Vision for Action.”[5] A few examples are:

  • USAID’s LGBTI Global Development Partnership key activities include awarding over 100 grants to LGBTI civil society organizations and training over 1,700 LGBTI entrepreneurs and businesses
  • USAID promotes “LGBTI Education Inclusion” in schools around the world through multiple avenues including:
    • Regional Development Mission for Asia: Partnering the Purple My School initiative through a program called “Being LGBTI in Asia” in schools in eight different countries. This program is facilitated by teachers who discuss the issues of homophobia and the free expression of gender identity and sexual orientation. Students are encouraged to wear, draw, or make something purple.
    • Hosting LGBTI rights and inclusion training to over 140 school principals in USAID’s Basic Education Program in Kosovo within its annual School Management and Leadership Program.
    • Hosting a Live Chat for LGBTI Pride Month at the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia
    • Providing LGBTI Online Training courses through USAID University

[1] United Nations (2014) UNODC, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2014, (United Nations Publication, Sales No. E 14. V.10) p. 5

[2] UNICEF Child-protection-child marriage database may 2016, Web Accessed August 2017 at: data.unicef.org.

[3] http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/22/state-department-spending-592500-to-explore-gender-identities-boys-and-men-in-kenya.html

[4] The White House Office of the Press Secretary (June 29, 2016) June 2016 Update. Web accessed October 17, 2017 at:  https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/29/fact-sheet-promoting-and-protecting-human-rights-lgbt-persons

[5] https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1874/LGBT%20Vision.pdf.