Gay sex tourism in anti-gay Gambia

Gambia President Yahya Jammeh (Photo courtesy of WIki Commons)
Gambia President Yahya Jammeh (Photo courtesy of WIkiMedia Commons)

Gambia’s strong-man president, Yahya Jammeh, devoted his recent speech at the opening session of parliament to railing against homosexuality along with the nation’s growing murder rate, police corruption and European countries’ deportation of Gambian citizens.

At much the same time, the United States-based Gambian website Freedom Newspaper published a harsh depiction of life in the West African nation, including a brief account of the Gambia as a gay tourism center.

In that article, Famara Sonko, a Gambian resident currently in the United Kingdom, described what he saw on his recent visit home, including prostitution, widespread use of cocaine, and police corruption. In addition, he said:

“Gay tourism too is rampant in the Gambia. Many young Gambian males slept with gay European tourists to earn a living.”

In the past, Jammeh has claimed that he had found an herbal remedy for AIDS. With reference to that claim, Sonko said:

“No wonder that’s why the Gambia is witnessing a growing number of HIV/AIDS cases. HIV is rampant in the country. I think the President’s fake AIDS cure is also luring many young people into risky behaviors. They have sex with their partners without using condoms. “

In his speech to parliament, Jammeh warned that he might lift a moratorium on executions if a recent spate of murders continues. He also warned that he would deport Europeans from Gambia in handcuffs if their home countries  unjustifiably deported Gambians in handcuffs.  Then he turned to the topic of homosexuality, repeating his baseless claim that he would not allow gays in the country.

He called homosexuality “satanic,” a threat to population growth, as well as “anti-god, anti-human, and anti-civilization.”

“If you are convicted of homosexuality in this country, there will be no mercy for offenders. We will put you in the female wing of the prison,” Jammeh said. “If we catch you, you will regret why you are born.”

The most recently publicized crackdown on LGBTs in Gambia was in April 2012, when 20 people were charged with homosexuality-related offenses after a police raid on an alleged “homosexual dance.”

After a lengthy detention, all were acquitted in August.

Under Gambian law, homosexual activities are punishable by a 14-year prison term.

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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, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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