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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" »


Gambian Activists Scold U.S. For Ignoring Atrocities Unrelated To LGBT Rights

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Representatives of the Civil Society Associations Gambia and other advocates for Gambian human rights gathered in Washington, D.C. last week to implore the U.S. government to redouble its supposed commitment to supporting the West African nation. In recent months there’s been a spike of Western attention that many of the activists attributed to the rise of visibly anti-LGBT sentiment within Gambia.

Officially the United States State Department has publicly condemned Gambian president Yahya Jammeh for passing a law that criminalizes “aggravated homosexuality.” The Gambian government, however, has expressed its intentions to continue its crusade against queer individuals regardless of aid cuts or retaliation from the West.

Banka Manneh of the Civil Society Associations Gambia spoke at a panel held at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights to voice his concerns about the U.S.’s inconsistent attention. While the media attention towards Jammeh’s discriminatory laws has been well intentioned, many feel that it belies the seeming blind eye that’s been turned to other Gambian atrocities committed against non-LGBT people.

“In all these years of efforts to go to the state department, going to all these different levels in the U.S. government lobbying and lobbying for them to do something about the Gambia, we haven’t been having any traction at all,” said Manneh. “All of sudden they arrest these 15 gays and lesbians, and we’re seeing really what seems to be a firestorm.”

Jammeh’s “aggravated homosexuality” law bears a number of parallels with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, and has similarly captured the attention of the world press for its severity. As horrific as Jammeh’s avowal to hunt down Gambia’s LGBT population may sound, however, they are not uncharacteristic of the dictator’s generally oppressive politics.

“What we are hoping is that this could be a catalyst - maybe this could be a wake up call,” Manneh said. “Maybe [the U.S. has] been asleep all this time. If this serves that purpose, that would be awesome because then it benefits the LGBT community and the regular Gambians.”


Gambian Government Says It Will Continue Persecuting Gays Regardless of Any Western Aid Cuts

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The Gambian government has fired back at Western donor nations following the U.S. State Department's condemnation of the West African nation's new law imprisoning citizens for homosexual acts, the Associated Press reports:

JahumpaThe European Union and the United States recently expressed dismay at the law and discrimination against gay people in the West African country. Both provide aid to impoverished Gambia and have used that position to encourage respect for human rights.

The Gambian government will not allow acceptance of gay people to be a pre-condition for receiving aid "no matter how much aid is involved," Foreign Minister Bala Garba Jahumpa said in a nationally televised addressed late Saturday.

"We are no longer going to entertain any dialogue on the issue with the European Union or any other foreign power," he said.

Earlier this month, the AP reported that the new law:

...criminalizes "aggravated homosexuality," which targets "serial offenders" and people living with HIV or AIDS. 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. The term also applies when the suspect is the parent or guardian of the other person or is "in authority over" him or her.


State Department Condemns Severe 'Aggravated Homosexuality' Law in Gambia: VIDEO

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The U.S. has condemned the decision of Gambia President Yahya Jammeh to approve a severe new law imposing life imprisonment for homosexual acts, reports ABC.

The law went into effect on October 9th. Homosexual acts had already been punishable with up to 14 years in prison.

The AP reported last week:

“It criminalizes ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which targets 'serial offenders' and people living with HIV or AIDS. 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. The term also applies when the suspect is the parent or guardian of the other person or is 'in authority over' him or her."

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c70bfab2970b-300wiThe term “aggravated homosexuality” was borrowed from a Ugandan anti-gay law signed earlier this year that was eventually ruled unconstitutional.  More extreme anti-gay laws are expected to be enacted in Uganda shortly.

In a statement issued on Monday, State Department Director of Press Relations Jeff Rathke said:

"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 The Gambia.”

Rathke also voiced concerns about reports of recent arrests in Gambia of at least four men, a 17-year-old boy and nine women accused of committing homosexual acts.

Last week, Amnesty International accused Gambian security forces of resorting to beatings and the threat of rape and other abuses if the detainees did not confess.

Gambian officials have declined to comment on the new law or the arrests.

Watch a Young Turks report on Gambia's anti-gay law, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "State Department Condemns Severe 'Aggravated Homosexuality' Law in Gambia: VIDEO" »


Gambian Leader Signs Law Imposing Life Imprisonment for Homosexual Acts Amid New Crackdown

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Gambia's leader Yahya Jammed signed a bill into law that would imprison citizens for homosexual acts, the AP has revealed:

It criminalizes "aggravated homosexuality," which targets "serial offenders" and people living with HIV or AIDS. 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. The term also applies when the suspect is the parent or guardian of the other person or is "in authority over" him or her.

People found guilty of aggravated homosexuality can be sentenced to life in prison.

The revelation comes amidst a new crackdown on gays in the country this month.

GambiaAmnesty International reported this week:

Since 7 November, state forces have launched a homosexuality investigation, leading to at least eight arrests.

Four men plus one 17-year-old boy were arrested by the National Intelligence Agency and Presidential Guards in Banjul, the capital city, under investigation for crimes of homosexuality. They are being held in a secret location without access to a lawyer, and are at high risk of being tortured. By holding the men in detention for more than three days without charging or releasing them, state forces are breaking the law according to Gambia's constitution.

Three women were also arrested in Banjul on 13 November. They said they were beaten in detention and threatened with rape by security forces. The women have now been released, but the police kept their identity cards and banned them from travelling.

All detainees, male and female, were told that if they did not 'confess' to the charges of homosexuality, a device would forced into their anus or vagina to 'test' their sexual orientation.

State forces are reportedly collecting a list of names for future arrest. Other men and women managed to escape the forces' interrogation as friends and relatives gave them advance warning that security forces would be targeting them.

Buzzfeed adds:

“They are making a list,” said Amnesty International’s François Patuel. “This is a very well organized operation.”

Fatou Camara said she had spoken to sources with the intelligence service that said 200 people alleged to be LGBT had been identified, but this could not be independently confirmed.

Theresa said she and her best friend, who asked to be identified only as Youngesp, fled to the Senegalese capital Dakar around three weeks ago. A friend who works on the police force tipped them off, telling them, “you guys have to leave the country because they are coming to arrest you.” They left at 4:00 AM the next morning.


Chad Considers Criminalizing Gay Sex With 20 Years In Prison

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(Chad President Idriss Déby)

Chad is likely to become the 37th African country to outlaw homosexuality after politicians voted in favor of a proposed law that would make same-sex relations a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, reports The Guardian.

According to Amnesty International, same-sex relations are illegal - and in some punishable by death - in 36 of Africa’s 54 countries.

Chad’s penal code does not explicitly mention homosexuality but the proposed amendment states the punishment for anyone who has sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex is 15 to 20 years in jail and a fine of 50,000-500,000 Central African francs (around $100-$1,000). Chad map

Government officials have said that the measure, which has yet to be ratified by President Idriss Déby, is intended to “protect the family and to comply with Chadian society”.

The Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights called on Déby to strike down the proposed law:

“By criminalising homosexuality, Chad’s proposed penal code is an instrument of discrimination, not of justice. I urge president Déby and the Chadian parliament to reject any attempts to make prejudice the law of the land.”

Florent Geel, Africa director of the International Federation of Human Rights, said that although it is to be welcomed that the proposed bill would abolish the death penalty, this positive “is unfortunately marred by the criminalisation of homosexuality.”

According to Geel, while the reform of the penal code had been in preparation for 10 years, the question of homosexuality, while considered immoral, had never been an issue in Chad.

A number of countries in Africa have recently enacted severe anti-gay laws. Some observers believe this may be a response to the increased visibility and assertiveness of LGBT people in Africa. However, US evangelical Christians - chief among them Scott Lively - have been widely blamed for instigating draconian anti-gay legislation in Uganda and other countries.

Last month, The Gambia passed a bill imposing life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality.”

In January, the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a bill criminalising same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights groups.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe regularly attacks LGBT people in speeches and recently said he resented - but continues to accept - western aid because it depends on conditions such as accepting homosexuality.

Although Uganda’s harsh anti-gay law was struck down by judges on a technicality, it is expected to be reintroduced by MPs.


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