Google is facing criticism from within today following news that the company invited a prominent anti-gay activist to attend a Mountain View tech conference this Friday. What's more, The Guardian reports that Google went so far as to sponsor his visa — a move that has understandably rankled some of the tech giant's LGBTQ employees.
Ezekiel Mutua is the head of the Kenyan film classification board, and in that capacity has repeatedly condemned homosexuality and worked to ban music and film that depict it. “Kenya must not allow people to become the Sodom and Gomorrah through psychological drive from such content,” he told Mamba Online in reference to a cover of the Macklemore song "Same Love" which addressed the queer community in Kenya.
In a country where homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison Mutua's words carry weight, and the KFCB outlawed the music video in question.
This is just one of many incidents involving Mutua's condemnation of homosexuality, and a person familiar with the matter told the Guardian that some Google employees are upset the company invited Mutua to attend the upcoming Web Rangers conference in Mountain View.
Mutua, for his part, was all bluster about the matter — bragging in a now-deleted Facebook post that he got approval to attend the conference despite his anti-gay stance. "Because of my stand on moral values, including the banning of content promoting LGBT and atheists culture in Kenya, someone wrote in a local daily that I will never get a visa to the US,” he wrote. “Well, I not only got it but it came on a diplomatic passport and I didn’t even have to go to the embassy for biometrics or pay the visa application fee."
However, despite Google's support, his celebration may have been a bit too hasty. Although he is already in the US, Standard Digital reports that the Kenyan Department of Immigration issued an order to revoke his diplomatic passport — saying he no longer qualified for one.
The Web Rangers conference seeks to "promote digital literacy so everyone can use the internet to pursue passions, hone talents and develop skills or learn new things that matter." Mutua is not scheduled to speak at the event.