WASHINGTON Today the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) condemns the decision by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to sign into law horrific new legislation that could lead to life in prison for some LGBT people in The Gambia. HRC also calls on the Obama Administration to conduct a full diplomatic review of the United States' relationship with The Gambia.
According to a new Associated Press report, Jammeh actually signed the bill into law on October 9, although "no government officials have yet publicly notified the country of the new law." According to multiple news reports, earlier this year The Gambia's National Assembly passed the legislation that includes nearly identical language to Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act, and the bill has since awaited the signature of Jammeh, who has a deeply troubling record on LGBT rights.
"These draconian laws have no place in the 21st century, and the United States must send a clear message that the Gambian government cannot trample on the rights of its LGBT citizens," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "We call on the Obama Administration to conduct a full diplomatic review of the United States' relationship with The Gambia."
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration conducted such a review of Uganda following the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in February, and imposed a series of concrete actions that held the Ugandan government and leaders in it accountable for it. Uganda's law was ruled unconstitutional in August based on a procedural technicality.
In 2008, Jammeh promised "stricter laws than Iran" against LGBT people, and said he would "cut off the head" of LGBT people living in the country. Earlier this year, he said that "we will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively."
"By signing this law, President Jammeh rides a wave of anti-LGBT laws enacted in Africa. He has been one of the most violently vocal opponents of LGBT peoplepromoting stigmatization, describes them them as 'vermin' and even calling for their death," said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. "But it's very important to note that this is a global problem, not an African one."