Gambian President Yahya Jammeh challenged over anti-gay statement

A Gambian human rights organization, the Gambia Secular Assembly (GSA), has challenged Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh over a recent anti-gay statement he made. In a 19-page open letter sent to the press, GSA said in part, “We sincerely approve the President’s concern to prove the rationality of homosexuality and wish to seize the opportunity to humbly inform him that the same concern had been held by others who long in the past made better and more scientific result oriented tests of homosexuality using different methods that severally and universally proved that homosexuality is largely biological and therefore natural.”

The notoriously anti-gay president had said during the opening of his country’s parliament recently that “The Gambia is a country of believers, in which ‘sinful and immoral practices such as homosexuality will not be tolerated.”

GSA reminded President Jammeh that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon earlier in the year warned African leaders that they should stop treating gays as “second class citizens or even criminals.”

GSA told President Jammeh and the general Gambian public that homosexuality is biological and therefore natural and does not harm religion and culture as generally believed by most Gambians.

The organization urged Gambians to “exercise a bit of tolerance” with regards to homosexuality and homosexual persons and to learn to “co-exist with our gay brothers and sisters without hindrance to one another’s nature in terms of sexual orientation.”

GSA asked the Gambian authorities “to recognize differences of sexual orientation and accord gay men, lesbians and bisexual Gambians and immigrants in the country authority to live their lives according to their sexual orientations normally as done to their heterosexual fellows.”

They also called on the government of The Gambia to “end without hesitation, the court proceedings currently on-going at the Kanifing magistrates courts against the 18 men and two women accused of having been engaged in ‘indecent practices among themselves in public places in Serekunda and other places in The Gambia.’ (The charges against the 20 were later amended to an “attempt to commit un-natural offences.”)

Finally GSA told the government of The Gambia to repeal any law that criminalises consensual same-sex conduct between adults, and amend other laws that are implemented with the purpose of prosecuting individuals and communities based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Article by: Akoro Joseph Sewedo

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