Gambian President Yahya Jammeh promises stricter laws on homosexuality

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has promised to toughen laws that punish the act of homosexuality in his country. President Jammeh reiterated his stance that he would never accept homosexuality in the Gambia, after recent pressure from the international community on African states to respect and protect LGBTI persons in Africa.

During a swearing-in ceremony for new ministers on Tuesday and monitored by Behind the Mask in Lagos,  Jammeh said, “We know what human rights are. Human beings of the same sex cannot marry or date.” In addition, he said, “If you think it is human rights to destroy our culture, you are making a great mistake because if you are in Gambia, you are in a wrong place then.”

In 2008, Jammeh promised “stricter laws than Iran” on homosexuality and said he would “cut off the head” of any gay person found in the Gambia. He said, “The Gambia is a country of believers, sinful and immoral practices such as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country.” 

A few weeks ago- at the African Union summit, U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon says African nations should stop treating gays as “second-class citizens, or even criminals.”

However Jammeh said, “If we Africans are to build our societies based on outside dictates and structure, our cultures based on alien cultures, we will be the losers.”

Under Article 144 of the Gambian Criminal Code, any same-sex sexual act is punishable with up to 14 years imprisonment. Originally, Gambia’s law only applied to males, but was updated in 2005 to apply to lesbians as well.

Join the discussion