By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
President Yahya Jammeh, who has for twenty-one years served as Gambia’s president, declared his nation an Islamic republic claiming this action would serve to break from the nations “colonial past.”
Though Gambia’s population is ninety percent Muslim and this would be in many ways seem an alignment with the culture of its people, the nation nevertheless has a very poor reputation for human rights, especially in its treatment of its homosexual citizens.
Jammeh is a vehemently and vocal anti-gay leader who told gays and lesbians in 2008 to leave the country or risk decapitation. Five women have now been arrested as accused lesbians in what human rights groups are calling a national campaign of terror and torture by the police.
The law criminalizes what it calls “aggravated homosexuality,” involving “serial offenders” and people living with HIV or AIDS. The law lumps such “repeat offenders” who engage in homosexual relations with people who engage in homosexual acts with someone who is under 18, disabled or who has been drugged or is under the “authority” of the homosexual. The accused face life in prison.
Amnesty International has charged that people are being tortured by police and forced to confess to homosexual acts or to accuse others of such acts.
Last year the European Union withheld aid packages to the small nation over its human rights record.
President Jammeh claimed in a television interview that no dress code would be enforced and promised that people of all religions would be allowed to practice their faith. He continued, “As Muslims are the majority in the country; the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy.”
Jammeh withdrew Gambia from the British Commonwealth in 2013 claiming it was a neo-colonial organization.
By Darren Smith
Source: BBC News
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