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» 27.09.2010 - Gambia Dictator "lied about Obama award"
» 15.07.2010 - Gambian "coup plotters" sentenced to death
» 04.03.2010 - $8 million support for agric production
» 04.03.2010 - Six security officials sacked
» 16.02.2010 - Gambia expels UNICEF envoy
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» 19.11.2009 - Gambian president withdraws from Commonwealth meeting

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Politics | Society | Gay - Lesbian

IGLHRC tackles Gambian leader

afrol News, 26 May - An international gay and lesbian rights body has got a beef with Gambian President Yahya Jammeh over his discriminatory remarks against homosexuals, ordering him to "immediately retract" his statements.

In a strongly-worded letter to the Gambian leader, the Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Paula Ettelbrick, took a swipe at Mr Jammeh for ordering homosexuals out of the country and threatened them with summary executions.

Ettelbrick also called for the repeal of Gambia's antiquated sodomy law, inherited from its days as British colony. Article 144 of the criminal code of 1965 levies imprisonment of people convicted of consensual homosexual acts for up to 14 years. This law is no longer acceptable in a modern society, respectful of human rights and values, the IGLHRC said.

Mr Jammeh is blamed for violating the Gambian constitution's provision that states "every person shall have the right to liberty and security of the person." Jammeh is also accused of violating and compromising Gambia's adherence to several international and regional human rights treaties, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights that guarantees protection to persecuted or those running from persecution.

"Any gay or lesbian person, be they a Gambian national or a refugee from a neighboring country, has the right to the protection of the Gambian government, not its enmity," Ettelbrick said, blaming Jammeh for his threats that hotels and lodges that accommodate homosexuals will face severe consequences. This means Jammeh has clearly denied invididuals the rights to housing and security.

President Jammeh is also challenged on his threats to "cut off the head" of any homosexual caught in The Gambia, a complete departure from Yogyakarta Principles signed by several prominent African jurists that "everyone has the right to life" and that "no one shall arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity".

Gays and lesbian rights bodies have been outraged and shocked upon hearing that the Gambian leader is creating an environment of fear and persecution in his country, the host of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights and key human rights non-governmental organisations.

"As such, you have a special responsibility to move above your personal moral or religious beliefs and recognize that while viewpoints on homosexuality may differ in The Gambia, your country is committed to a human rights regime that includes the basic human rights of all minorities. Intolerance and hatred are distinctly unspiritual values denounced by the Bible, the Koran, and all other major religious texts".

Gambian leader has been remained to be mindful of blaming sexual minorities for the problems of his country because the strategy fails in other countries.

"Gay and lesbian people are not your problem or your enemy. They are your sons and daughters, the teachers of your children, the pastors of your churches, the leaders of your mosques, the seller of tomatoes in the market. We are everywhere, making contributions everyday to the development of our countries."

Last week, President Jammeh used a political rally outside the capital Banjul asking homosexuals to leave within 24 hours before they face doom.

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