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U.S. Condemns Gambia President's 'Unconscionable' Threat to Cut the Throats of Gay Men

Rice

National Security Advisor Susan Rice has condemned Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's recent pledge to slit the throats of gay men living in the West African nation.

Said Jammeh in a speech last while while on a nationwide agricultural tour:

"If you do it [in The Gambia] I will slit your throat — 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.”

Said Rice in a statement:

JammehThe recent unconscionable comments by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh underscore why we must continue to seek a world in which no one lives in fear of violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love. We condemn his comments, and note these threats come amid an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia. We are deeply concerned about credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens - and arbitrary detention at the government's hands.

In related news, today marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) and the White House has released a fact sheet on various U.S. governmental efforts over the years to address LGBT issues both domestic and abroad.  

"Here at home, we are working to end bias-motivated violence, combat discrimination in the workplace, and address the specific needs of transgender persons," said President Obama in a statement. "Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach."


The Gambia President Yahya Jammeh Threatens To Cut The Throats Of Gay Men: VIDEO

Gambia

Speaking during a tour stop last week in the North Bank region of the country, The Gambia president Yahya Jammeh threatened to slit the throats of gay men, reports Vice.

Yahya JammehJammeh, who has been leader of The Gambia since 1994, said:

"If you do it [in The Gambia] I will slit your throat — 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.”

According to Fatu Camara, a journalist and former press secretary to Jammeh, the reference to white people is likely a nod to Western leaders who have criticized the country’s human rights abuses and reduced aid.

Camara, who fled The Gambia in 2013 to escape sedition charges, said that Jammeh has spun the aid cuts as an affront to the country's religious values that is directly related to its anti-homosexuality laws.

Foreign Minister Neneh MacDouall-Gaye said at a European Union (EU) meeting this last weekend that the country's government would observe international laws, but would continue to protect religious beliefs and traditions.

"If you read in between the lines, the foreign minister is also trying to say, 'We are not going to accept homosexuality.’ The president already made the Gambians believe that the reason the EU cut funding to him is because of homosexuality."

Last December, it was reported that at least three people were arrested on suspicion of homosexuality. Earlier last year, the Gambia criminalized "aggravated homosexuality" with punishment up to life in prison.

Watch Jammeh rail against the "gay agenda", AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Gambia President Yahya Jammeh Threatens To Cut The Throats Of Gay Men: VIDEO" »


LGBT Members Of Congress Object To Trade Agreement With Anti-Gay Brunei And Malaysia

Lgbt

Five out gay members of Congress have written to President Obama to ask why Malaysia and Brunei - two countries with severe anti-gay laws - have been included in a free trade pact which the administration is currently negotiating and seeking to fast-track, reports Buzzfeed News.

Ddcda4647e4d3900da0f2b57c8fd68bd_400x400Sent yesterday, the letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan, David Cicilline (above left), Sean Patrick Maloney (above middle), Kyrsten Sinema (above right) and Mark Takano, five of the six co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which also includes several other nations in Asia and Latin America, became a serious concern for gay rights groups last year after the sultan of Brunei imposed a version of sharia law that included a punishment of death by stoning for homosexuality. Some states in Malaysia also have criminal sharia codes, and the government is appealing a court ruling striking down a law that criminalizes transgender people.

The five representatives argue in the letter that although Obama’s administration announced in December that it would remove the Gambia from a trade pact for African nations because of a crackdown on gay rights, negotiations continue with Brunei and Malaysia.

The letter reads in part:

“In light of the decision to end trade preferences for Gambia, we write today to ask for clarification on the inclusion of Brunei and Malaysia in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

“These two countries are responsible for severe human rights abuses, including adopting penal codes permitting the imprisonment and physical harm of LGBT people. It seems inconsistent for the United States to expand trade privileges to these two countries while taking action against Gambia.”

Jared Polis, the sixth Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus co-chair, is the only out member of Congress who did not sign the letter.


Gambian Man Arrested For Being Gay Fears Death After Being Tortured While In Police Custody: VIDEO

GAMBIA

One of the three men arrested on suspicion of homosexuality in The Gambia back in December has been admitted to a hospital due to "excessive bleeding" and reportedly fears for his life.

Freedom Newspaper, a Gambian online news site, claims the individual in question is Alieu Sarr. According to the Newspaper, Sarr's situation is dire: "'Mr. Sarr has been crying on his hospital bed saying that he is going to die. He was tortured while under state custody. He appeared weak and pale,' said our source."

Human rights activist Jeffrey Smith and Gambian journalist Fatu Camara broke the news of the man's arrest and torture on Twitter. Camara noted that the man had been moved to a "private block" and authorities "stuck cotton in his nose" due to the excessive bleeding. According to Smith, the man was also being guarded by armed security.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d0afe646970c-800wiSmith suggested that notoriously anti-gay President Yahya Jammeh was using this "crackdown" on homosexuals to deflect attention away from a December coup that sought to oust him so as to boost his popularity. 

Camara spoke to BuzzFeed News detailing the atrocities suffered by Sarr and other individuals the Gambian states views as dissidents:

Camara, who was accused of treason by Jammeh and witnessed torture of others while in custody, said the regime had a history of transferring prisoners to the hospital’s private blocs before they are murdered. In a 2011 case, she said, a former political ally of Jammeh’s named Baba Jobe was strangled in Room 10 of the private bloc while in the custody of armed guards.

“There are many other stories of people who they take to the hospital and then they would die,” said Camara. She also had been in contact with another person who confirmed the account of Sarr’s condition given by the witness who spoke to BuzzFeed News.

The witness said Sarr’s room is guarded by two armed soldiers. A nurse told the witness that Sarr has not seen a doctor, which Camara said is consistent with the treatment of other prisoners who have been brought to the hospital. Treatment is withheld until “instructions” are received from the regime, she said.

Though the United States dropped The Gambia from a popular trade agreement over its persecution of LGBT individuals, the Human Rights Campaign has called upon the Obama administration to take more strident actions against the West African nation, as Pink News points out:

“The United States cannot turn a blind eye to the horrific human rights abuses being inflicted on Gambians by President Yahya Jammeh’s regime,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.  “As we speak, the lives of LGBT Gambians who have been arrested and secretly detained are at risk, and there are no indications that Jammeh’s brutal crackdown on LGBT people and others is slowing down.

The Gambian government paraded the men it arrested for being on national television in December.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gambian Man Arrested For Being Gay Fears Death After Being Tortured While In Police Custody: VIDEO" »


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.


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. 


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