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‘Gambia has no plans to decriminalise homosexuality’—Gov’t

Justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou

In its response to various concerns raised by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Gambia government said it has no plans to decriminalize homosexuality in the country.

Gambia, represented by solicitor general Cherno Marenah and others, appeared before the UN rights committee in Geneva on July 5 to 6 to answer various questions the body has on the protection of rights in the country.

However, prior to the question and answer session, the country made a submission of report based of various questions asked by the rights body on May 12, 2018 where it responded to various concerns raised.

Asked if there are plans to decriminalize homosexuality in the country, the government said: “The issue of LGBT is not considered to be a problem in the Gambia because even though it is criminalised the LGBT community are not subjected to any form of discrimination and harassment. At this point of our nation’s history, the Gambian people have not accepted homosexuality as a life style and so the government as the representative of the people does not plan to decriminalise the practice of homosexuality.”

Gay is a crime in Gambia. The Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2014 introduced the new crime of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ for ‘serial offenders’ and gay or lesbian people who live with HIV – which comes with the punishment of a lifetime in prison.

The Bill was passed by Gambia’s parliament on 25 August. Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh, made the Bill law on 9 October.

However, since the coming into power of President Adama Barrow, unlike his predecessor, he tries to avoid discussion of the issue in public.

Gay is a very unpopular practice in Gambia and public support of the practice by any political leader is largely considered to be unwise.

However, the country’s current vice president Ousainou Darboe has told journalists last year that he is not against the decriminalization of the current anti-gay law.

Gambia is among 171 countries across the world that are signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the country faces the UN rights watchdog every four years for review.

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