- September 30, 2013
Post submitted by Jane WothayaThirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow
The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, has made a scathing attack against gay and lesbian persons, terming homosexuality as one of the biggest threats facing the world. Jammeh was speaking at the 68th United Nations General Assembly.
In his remarks, he alleged that gay and lesbian individuals are a threat to human existence and that homosexual behavior was becoming an epidemic which Africans and Muslims will fight to end. This is not the first time that he has made threatening remarks against the LGBT community.
In 2008, he gave gay and lesbian individuals 24 hours to leave the country and threatened to seek out, arrest and expel them from their homes. According to the BBC, the President had vowed to “cut off the head” of any gay or lesbian person, and to impose stricter laws banning homosexuality. He has also continuously vilified organizations and other countries for considering same-sex rights a human right.
Gambia is signatory to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These statements go against Article 26 of the African Charter which provides that “every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance”.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Gambia - Article 144 of the criminal code punishes consensual sexual acts between men with 14 years in prison, while in 2005 the law was updated to include women.