Eighteen men were arrested April 9 in a bar in The Gambia after they allegedly engaged in homosexual activities, the Gambian/Senegalese website Jellofnews Online reported.
The men included 16 Gambians, one man from Senegal and one from Nigeria.
After a court hearing, they were held in custody on charges of “indecent practice among themselves at a public place,” Jellofnews reported. The men denied the charges.
The Associated Press reported that the men were accused of organizing an indecent dance ceremony for tourists.
Under Gambian law, homosexual activities are punishable by a 14-year prison term.
The Gambian newspaper The Point identified the men as Alieu Sarr, Kebba Ceesay, Abdoulie Bojang, Amadou Jallow, Amidou Nyang, Ousman Gomez, Sainey Fatty, Lamin Konateh, Lamin Sarr, Buba Banda, Ebrima Jallow, Lamin Saho, Abdoulie Cham, Lamin Jaiteh, Ousman Dibba, Abdoulie Saidy and Muhammed Manneh (a total of 17).
The magistrate urged police to expedite their investigation and remanded the defendants to police custody. A further hearing was scheduled for April 19.
Gambian president Yahya Jammeh recently proclaimed that “he will never allow gays and lesbians in the country,” Jellofnews reported. Jammeh also criticized initiatives by the United States, United Kingdom and the United Nations to recognize gay rights as human rights. The news website reported:
The president described homosexuality as an abomination and an alien norm that is being imposed on Africans by the West in the name of freedom and rights.
He said while he remains president, Gambians will live and behave according to Gambian and African cultural norms and nurture faith in the supremacy of God.
“If we Africans are to build our societies based on outside dictates and structure our cultures based on alien cultures, we will be the losers. But if they think they can sit there and dictate us how we should live, the Gambia will be the exception,” President Jammeh said.
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