Gambian president signs bill to punish gays with life imprisonment

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The president of Gambia has signed into law a bill which calls for life imprisonment for people caught having gay sex.

The law was passed by the National Assembly in September, and amends the criminal code to bring life sentences for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The Associated Press reports that a draft bill contains identical language to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed into law earlier this year.

According to the legislation, “aggravated homosexuality” applies to “serial offenders”, as well as people living with HIV or AIDS.

President Yahya Jammeh, who in February referred to gay people as “vermin”, saying they should be dealt with in the same way as mosquitoes which “cause” malaria.

Amnesty International says the bill will add to “the climate of fear” facing gay people in Gambia.

Same-sex activity in the country is currently punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.

At least eight people have been arrested in Gambia for being gay in November, and Amnesty International called for an end to the harsh treatment of gay people there.