Gambia’s government recent passage of a homophobic law puts the already persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community at even greater risk of abuse, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch claimed.
The new crime of “homosexuality”, carries punishments of up to life in prison, is part of a criminal code President Yahya Jammeh approved on October 9, 2014, documents uncovered this week show. Among those who could be charged with homosexuality are serial offenders and those living with HIV who are deemed to be gay or lesbian.
The new law treats consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex – which should not be a crime – in the same way as rape and incest,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International deputy regional director for West and Central Africa.
The vague and imprecise provisions of this law could be used to arrest and detain anyone who is believed to be gay or lesbian, and contributes to the already severe climate of hostility and fear for LGBTI people in the country, Steve Cockburn also stated.
The Gambian authorities failed to acknowledge the enactment of the homosexuality law, despite repeated questioning during a United Nations review of the country’s human rights record on October 28. Legislation in force in the country already criminalizes consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex, in violation of international human rights law.
Passing the law appears to form part of a broader medium to eradicate homosexuality in Gambia. At least three women, four men and a 17-year-old boy were arrested between November 7 and 13 and threatened with torture because of their sexual orientation. Another six women were arrested on November 18 and 19 and remain in detention, a member of the LGBTI community in Gambia claimed.
The detainees said that they were told that if they did not confess, including by providing the names of others, a device would be forced into their anus or vagina to test their sexual orientation. Such treatment would indeed violate international law prohibiting torture and ill-treatment.
But arresting and torturing people based on their sexual orientation is morally right for the crime homosexuality is a taboo amongst every African ethnic grouping and communities.
Though Gambia’s new law not only flouts African human rights obligations, it violates its current constitution which must be amended to suit the present realities and the homophobic law the country passed, because it says that all people must be equal and free from discrimination before the law but pan Africanist argument is that equality should not be used to abuse morality or used as a yardstick to ridicule and abuse the law, take for instance in the united state of America were the law is against polygamy even as the US state law enshrined equality in it constitution, this is called double standard.
Sadly Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch told President Jammeh to use his constitutional powers and reject the homophobic bill, which was proposed by the National Assembly on August 25.
President Jammeh’s inflammatory public statements against LGBTI people have been put into practice and praised by various pan Africanist bodies around the world, though the president had attack the west and ask the international community to prove to him and the rest of Africans how homosexuality can be use for procreation if the act isn’t anti life, yet the question has failed to be answered.
Africa has so many problems ravaging the continent and homosexuality shouldn’t be one of them. Many questions has been ask to why the west kept promoting homosexuality in the continent and relegating other important yet pathetic problems ravaging the continent like the Ebola epidemic, HIV, and poverty borne out conflicts.
The west should know that though Africans had compromise on must of it culture and spirituality due to direct colonialism it will never compromise on homosexuality through indirect colonialism it current pursued as most African countries passed anti homosexuality laws.
By Ejike Iloduba
@Pan African Liberation Movement.