Gambia could repeal law giving life sentences for ‘aggravated homosexuality’

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Gambian politicians are pushing for the repeal a 2014 law which gave life sentences to those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality”.

A bill was signed into law by former President Yahya Jammeh in 2014 which gave the harsh sentences to anyone found as a “repeat offender” or those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality”.

But Gambian Foreign Secretary Ousainou Darboe has told SMBC News: “Homosexuality was perhaps something Jammeh imagined in order to bamboozle the clerics that were surrounding him…He used gay as a propaganda tool in order for him to continue to repress people.”

He added: “Aggravated homosexuality was a distraction and it should be taken out of the laws.”

Farboe is the leader of the United Democratic Party, the largest political group which was the official opposition to Jammeh’s government.

He went on to say that his party would support the repeal of the law.

The former president had referred to gay people as “vermin” saying they should be dealt with like they are mosquitoes. He also claimed in September that he can cure AIDS, but only on Mondays and Thursdays.

Yahya Jammeh ruled the country from 1994 to December 2016, when he lost the election.

He came into power following a military coup. During his 22-year reign he crushed any opposition to his regime and encouraged violence against the LGBT community.

In 2008, he was strongly criticised by EU officials after he vowed to introduce laws stricter than those in Iran, where gay acts between men are punishable by death.

President elect Adama Barrow, who took the position from Jammeh, worked and studied in the UK for a few years before returning to his home country and setting up a property company.

The 51-year-old had never previously held a public office position but has vowed to revive the country’s economy.

Ahead of the election Jammeh cracked down on his political opponents as he banned international observers, post-election demonstrations and switched off the internet.

His tactical moves made hopes for a new president unlikely, so Barrow’s win came as a surprise to Gambia’s population.