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Many help pro-LGBTI Gambian avoid anti-LGBTI homeland

Alagie Jammeh (Photo by Paul Wellman courtesy of the Santa Barbara Independent)
Alagie Jammeh (Photo by Paul Wellman courtesy of the Santa Barbara Independent)

Alagie Jammeh, the newly LGBTI-friendly nephew of anti-LGBTI Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, has raised $13,505 from more than 300 people in his effort to remain in the United States as a college student instead of returning to the Gambia. There his advocacy of equal rights for LGBTI people would put him at risk.

He tells his tale in a GoFundMe appeal. (See below.)

Also below are links to coverage in the student newspaper of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and on Gay Star News, which claims that Alagie would be executed if he returned to the Gambia. He likely has a well-founded fear of persecution for his publicly stated political views on homosexuality,  opposed as these are to the views of the dictator.

Yahya Jammeh often vilifies gays. Last year, at the country’s independence day celebration, Jammeh called homosexuals “vermin” and said his government would fight them as it fights malaria-causing mosquitoes.  The Gambia’s harshest anti-gay law provides for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” although everyone who was arrested in last year’s anti-gay crackdown there has already been released.

Fund Alagie: Brave LGBTQ Supporter

My name is Alagie Jammeh and I support LGBTQ equality.

As a 25-year old International student studying Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I feel so lucky to be able to think freely and be myself in the United States. I am one of 17 children, and the first to ever graduate high school, and now to attend college.

However, Growing up in the Republic of The Gambia in West Africa, I was raised very differently. I was taught, specifically, that LGBTQ people are terrible, evil and should be condemned.

Living in the United States has shown me that this is not the case. Earlier this year, I showed open support on Facebook for LGBTQ people, who I have come to love and respect dearly. Due to this, the scholarship I received to attend UCSB from my home country was revoked, and I was told by the government of the Republic of the Gambia, that if I returned I would face life in prison.

Since then, my mother has had to leave the country, I have been alienated by my home government, family and friends, and have suffered financial burdens- leaving me in debt to my University, unstable food sources and housing, and daily stress, anxiety and depression from losing everything I hold dear.

But, I have been able to keep going from the support I have found at my school; the resources, friends and professors, my local church and a new family I am beginning to create. The opportunity to graduate and achieve my goals is keeping me going.

Living in the United States, I am not scared to do what I know is right. But what awaits me in my home country is shame and persecution. Even though I have been suffering, I still have my freedom. I want to express myself without fear of losing my life.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. 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 via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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