Yesterday US National Security Adviser Susan Rice denounced Gambian President Yahya Jammeh who last week vowed to “slit the throats” of gay men, adding, “If you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it.”
In October 2014 Jammeh signed a bill which makes homosexual acts punishable by life in prison.
“We condemn his comments, and note these threats come amid an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia,” Rice said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned about credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens – and arbitrary detention at the government’s hands.” Rice made the remarks in a statement one day before the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, saying the remarks from Gambia President Yahya Jammeh underscore the need for continued efforts “to seek a world in which no one lives in fear of violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love.” Jemmeh, who’s been in power since 1994 and survived a coup attempt on December 30, issued a warning to gay men in the Wolof language during a recent rally in which he also threatened the political opposition, according to a translation of his remarks obtained by the international news agency Vice News.
The Office of Tourism for Gambia must be an awfully lonely place to work. And hopefully so will the Gambian office that receives Foreign Aid shortly.
The United States on Tuesday dropped the Gambia from a popular free trade agreement in response to a crackdown on LGBT rights and other human rights concerns. The decision to drop the small West African nation from special trade status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 came late Tuesday afternoon, just after media in the Gambia announced that three men would be put on trial for homosexuality. These are the first to face trial since police began arresting people on allegations of homosexuality in November. At least 16 more are known to be in detention, and Gambian human rights activists do not know if they are even still alive. The move comes after Gambian human rights activists were able to secure their first meetings with high-ranking U.S. officials after years of unsuccessfully trying to get the State Department to respond to the abysmal human rights during President Yahya Jammeh’s 20 years in power. The meeting coincided with a petition drive launched by the largest American LGBT organization, the Human Rights Campaign, calling on the Obama administration to “take swift action against President Jammeh for his intolerable actions.”
Jammeh has been quoted as saying that no amount of foreign aid will bring LGBT rights to Gambia and has threatened to decapitate “any homosexuals found” in the country.
In a bold move Monday the U.S. State Department condemned the decision by Gambia’s president to approve a law imposing life imprisonment for homosexual acts.
“We are dismayed by President Jammeh’s decision to sign into law legislation that further restricts the rights of L.G.B.T. individuals and are deeply concerned about the reported arrests and detention of suspected L.G.B.T. individuals in Gambia,” said State department Director of Press Relations Jeff Rathke.
The atatement came after concerned were risen over reports of a recent arrests targeting at least four men, a 17-year-old boy and nine women accused of committing homosexual acts.
The suspects are the first to be arrested since the new law went into effect Oct. 9, the day President Yahya Jammeh signed it. Amnesty International last week accused Gambian security forces of resorting to beatings and the threat of rape and other abuses if they did not confess.
Homosexual acts were already punishable by up to 14 years in prison before Gambian lawmakers passed a bill in August punishing “aggravated homosexuality” with life in prison.
Suspects can also be charged with aggravated homosexuality for engaging in homosexual acts with someone who is under 18, disabled or who has been drugged
Jammeh, one of Africa’s most vocal anti-gay leaders, has also been criticized for other rights abuses, including allowing the execution of nine people by firing squad in 2012