40 days in jail without trial for 20 in ‘homosexual dance’

Eighteen men and two women apparently remain in jail without a trial in The Gambia 40 days after they were arrested for taking part in an alleged “homosexual dance.”

The most recent scheduled date for their court hearing came and went on May 8 without any news.

Senegambia resort (Photo courtesy of SenegambiaHotel.com)
Senegambia resort (Photo courtesy of SenegambiaHotel.com)

According to early reports, the alleged homosexuals were arrested April 6 after a dance ceremony for tourists at Kololi village about 18 kilometers outside the Gambian capital, Banjul. The dance allegedly included men dressed as women.

Paris-based reporter George Kazolias provided a different account of those events in a recent column in The Africa Report. He reported:

In early April there was a private party at a major luxury hotel in which the dress code for men was transvestite. Someone took photos. Somehow the photos ended up with the police and 18 men and two women were arrested and charged with homosexuality, a crime in the Gambia.

The owner of the hotel was not arrested. Less than two weeks later he was beaten to a pulp and flown to Germany to be hospitalised. Two of his employees were arrested for the assault but no motive has been given.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh endorsed the arrests. Kazolias noted that, in addition:

Ba Kawsu Fofana, a leading Muslim cleric, called for the twenty suspects to be killed. “Islamic Sharia law,” he said, “decrees that homosexuals should be killed to spend the afterlife in eternal damnation and torment in the deepest depths of hell fire.”

Fofana told The Standard newspaper “homosexuality constitutes a threat for the future of humanity.”

His statements came the day after an opinion piece by the head of the Gambia Secular Assembly called for “tolerance of homosexuality and homosexual persons.” The 19-page open letter to Jammeh claimed science has proven “homosexuality is biological and therefore, natural and does not harm religion and culture.”

Senegambia resort staff (Photo courtesy of SenegambiaHotel.com)
Senegambia resort staff (Photo courtesy of SenegambiaHotel.com)

Kazolias said The Gambia is an intensely impoverished country that depends on tourism for 20 percent of its GDP. The tourism industry includes high-end “sex tourism,” he said, which some local newspapers pointed out after the arrests were made.

“Just a couple of kilometres down the road from the Coco Ocean Hotel is the tourist resort Senegambia, a place where not only elder European women, but also European men, can be seen walking with young black bucks,” Kazolias wrote.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.


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