HRC Blog

John Kerry Calls Out Anti-LGBT Rhetoric in The Gambia

Post submitted by Jane WothayaThirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow

Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the U.S. is deeply troubled over hateful LGBT rhetoric used by President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, in his National Day speech on February 18. Jammeh called homosexuals “vermin,” comparing them to malaria-carrying mosquitoes as part of a renewed crackdown on same-sex relationships.

His latest comments are only the most recent example of rhetoric and actions, targeting gays and dissident groups. In September 2013, he used his address to the United Nations General Assembly to attack gays and lesbians, calling homosexuality one of the three “biggest threats to human existence.”

“We call on the Government of The Gambia to protect the human rights of all Gambians, and we encourage the international community to send a clear signal that statements of this nature have no place in the public dialogue and are unacceptable,” said Secretary Kerry.  

Jammeh became president of Gambia in a 1994 coup, and has since had a checkered human rights record. His comments coincide with those of many in power across the African continent, where homosexuality is often considered a taboo.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Ugandan president announced that President Yoweri Museveni is set to sign an archaic anti-LGBT bill into law that was passed by the Uganda parliament last December. An equally horrific law was signed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in January.

HRC has called on John Kerry to recall the nation’s ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria for urgent consultations before regular diplomacy can proceed with the two nations that have enacted some of the world’s most virulently anti-LGBT laws.

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