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."
The 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...