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Military Coup Fails To Overthrow Anti-Gay Gambian Government

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An early morning hostile attempt at seizing power from Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has been foiled, according to Agence France Presse. The unsuccessful military coup was led by a handful of members of Jammeh’s own personal guard who stormed the presidential palace around 0300 GMT.

At the time Jammeh was traveling abroad in Europe. Eye witnesses and army officials have confirmed accounts, saying that the insurgents were driven back by military gunfire.

Small outbursts of unrest have broken out in parts of Banjul, the country’s capital. In response to the fighting Gambian military officials have begun urging some civilians to remain in their homes and not go to work for the time being. Gambia’s borders with neighboring Senegal also appear to have been temporarily closed.

Jammeh made a name for himself after wresting control of Gambia’s government through a similar military coup in 1994. One of the most prominent features of Jammeh’s dictatorship-cum-presidency has been his staunch position to homosexuality.

Despite protestations from multiple Western nations that provide substantial international aid to Gambia, Jammeh has repeatedly reaffirmed his intentions of showing no mercy to Gambia’s LGBT population.


Nigerian Expatriate Turned LGBT Activist Sees Anti-Homosexuality Laws As An Opportunity for Change

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In 2004 in an appearance on "New Dawn with Funmi," a morning talk show program on Nigeria’s largest television network, Adebisi Alimi announced to the world that he was gay. The 29 year-old was an aspiring stage performer studying acting at the University of Lagos and, facing blackmail, he made the decision to come out.

The fallout following his announcement nearly ruined his life. Shunned by friends and family, Alimi was repeatedly harassed by law enforcement and left the country after an attempt on his life. In spite of the hardship that he’s faced, however, he sees his time in Nigeria as having been invaluable.

"My story is not a story of a victim,” he told the BBC in 2007. “It's a human story."  

Since then Alimi’s become a vocal LGBT-rights activist and HIV educator based out of the United Kingdom. In an interview with NPR's Goats & Soda Alimi explained his complex relationship to his home country particularly in light of a version of the draconian anti-homosexuality bill currently working its way through many African countries’ legislative systems. In Alimi’s opinion Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality bill will be, in the long term, a boom to the fight for LGBT equality.

“I see the law as a catalyst for change for good in Nigeria,” he explained. “You don't understand what it is like to fight a beast that you cannot see.”

Nigeria“Before the signing of that law, between 95 and 98 percent of Nigerians were in support of it. The latest poll says 88 percent of Nigerians now support the law.

That's a 10 percent drop. Some people who are not LGBT are now saying, ‘Did we just support a law that criminalizes people ... for falling in love?. [When] you see that your uncle or cousin is gay, it kind of changes the conversation.”

Check out the fulll interview here

And watch Adebisi Alimi’s TEDxBerlin talk about the next steps in fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Nigerian Expatriate Turned LGBT Activist Sees Anti-Homosexuality Laws As An Opportunity for Change" »


U.S. Drops The Gambia From Popular Trade Agreement Over Increasing Unjust Treatment Of LGBT People

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On Tuesday the U.S. dropped The Gambia from a popular free trade agreement, the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000, in response to the country's crackdown on LGBT rights and other human rights concerns reports BuzzFeedThe decision comes after The Gambia announced that three men would be put on trial for homosexuality; the three men are the first to face trial since police began arresting people on allegations of homosexuality in November. Currently 16 others are held in detention, leaving Gambian human rights activists unsure if the captives are even still alive. Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House, emailed BuzzFeed regarding the situation.

Said Price:

"The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has been monitoring the human rights situation in The Gambia for the past few years, with deepening concerns about the lack of progress with respect to human rights, rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process.

"In addition, in October, Gambian President Jammeh signed into law legislation that further restricts the rights of LGBT individuals, including life imprisonment for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality.’ Reports have surfaced of arrests, detention, and torture of individuals because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

Gambian human rights activists secured meetings with high-ranking U.S. officials after several unsuccessful years trying to get the State Department to respond to the terrible human rights record of President Yahya Jammeh. With the help of the Human Rights Campaign, activists believe the Obama administration is finally regarding them as a force in influencing U.S. foreign policy.

The meeting earlier this month that was held with Gambian human rights activists and White House officials was the first time they met with someone from the State Department regarding Jammeh's human rights record. Under the AGOA trade agreement, The Gambia was exporting an estimated $37 million in goods to the U.S. each year, duty-free. The U.S. essentially expelled The Gambia from the special trade status. This marks the first significant time the U.S. revoked trade status with an African nation, except when a government was overthrown in a coup according to statements from Jeffrey Smith, the advocacy officer with the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. Sudan was also dropped from the agreement for refusing to move toward peaceful solutions however, the country does not have any significant trade between itself and the U.S. 


Zimbabwean LGBT Volunteer Organization Attacked During Group Event

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A group of men armed with guns, iron bars, and other blunt objects assaulted and injured some thirty-five attendees of a function organized by the Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe, a community volunteering group. According to GALZ’s account of the events, between 12 and 15 men stormed their way into the gathering in an orchestrated display of anti-LGBT violence, “demanding cash and gadgets from the members present in the hall whilst attacking them.”

GALZ is likening the attack to a “militia acting on someone’s superior orders to orchestrate violence,” and many signs point to Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who is no friend of the gays. In a similar show of violence, the youth division of the Mugabe-aligned Zanu-PF party stormed GALZ’s offices in 2013.

“President Mugabe’s rhetoric has created a climate and culture of impunity and lawlessness,” GALZ intoned. “As evidenced by the actions of these thuggish men to hunt down LGBTI people in our communities, vicinities, and homes to inflict harm.”


Ugandan Parliament Adjourns for the Year Without Passing Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Ugandan parliamentary member Latif Ssebaggala’s attempt at pushing through a revised version of the country’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill has stalled after running into significant political hurdles, Buzzfeed reports.

MuseveniEarlier this year Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni first signed into law an earlier version of the bill that mandated heavy jail time and fines for Ugandan citizens found engaging in homosexual acts. In August, the law was repealed due to a parliamentary technicality that invalidated its initial passing. Ssebaggala spearheaded the effort to reintroduce a revised version of the bill almost immediately.

"The draft is ready and we have strengthened the law, especially in areas of promotion and luring children,” he told Reuters in November. “Next week we expect to meet the speaker to fix a date for the re-tabling to parliament."

The roadblocks facing the revised bill are complex and larger than Uganda’s social views on homosexuality. In August, facing economic backlash from countries that provide aid to Uganda, President Museveni endeavored his cabinet to reconsider their positions on the bill. A revised version, it was suggested, should focus more on the protection of children and the disabled, rather than expressly criminalizing homosexuality.

Though Museveni called for the new bill to forego punishing consenting gay adults, Ssebaggala’s new bill more or less featured a more intense set of legal consequences for gay people. Though Ssebaggala insisted that a new bill would be passed in time for Christmas, it would appear as if Museveni’s personal political machinations are standing in the way.

In February, after the initial passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, foreign aid from the U.S. and the World Bank were suspended and drastically cut, severely wounding Uganda’s governmental finances. Museveni, who has been Uganda’s president for the past three decades, is up for election once again in 2016.

Historically Museveni has always poured massive amounts of Western money into projects meant to please voters in the months leading up to elections. In short, he can’t afford to lose Western aid in the near future for fear of risking his position, and wholeheartedly backing a new Anti-Homosexuality bill would do just that.


Thousands Take Part In Gambian Anti-Gay March - VIDEO

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Thousands of people took part in an anti-gay protest in The Gambia last Tuesday.

GambiaDemonstrators were joined by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who earlier this year signed a new law imposing life imprisonment for homosexual acts. Last month, the Gambian government said it would never allow the acceptance of gay rights to be a precondition for accepting Western aid.

According to the report on AllAfrica, protesters denounced “attempts by outside forces - development partners - who advocate for homosexuality and lesbianism; vices forbidden by the laws of The Gambia.”

Those demonstrating are said to have carried placards with messages including "Homosexuality is Inhuman", "Even cows don't do it!" and "Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam".

The cow argument is not new: Uganda's First Lady Janet Museveni said earlier this year that humans shouldn't be homosexual because cows arent. .  Of course, cows can be gay as can many other animals.

A petition read by the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government Saihou Sanyang read in part:

"Your Excellency Mr. President, it goes without saying that our intolerance with the unnatural and abominable malpractices of homosexuality and lesbianism on the one hand, and the other, our government's position are not negotiable.

It is on the basis of such religious, social, moral and ethical upbringing built on high moral grounds that we stand by our government's position to zero tolerance to either homosexuality or lesbianism or both. There shall not be any turning point and that the people are ready for eventuals in good defence of the people and country's independence".

One protester brought up the animal issue again, saying "The Gambia is a decent country of decent people. Man to man marriage or woman to woman marriage will not be accepted because it is not acceptable by our tradition and cultures. Even animals know that it is not decent".

Watch The Young Turks discuss Jammeh's threat to catch and kill Gambians seeking asylum from persecution, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Thousands Take Part In Gambian Anti-Gay March - VIDEO" »


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