LGBT hopes in Africa, LGBT fears in the U.S.

On Jan. 20, as the United States inaugurated a president who might roll back advances toward LGBT justice and equality, troops thousands of miles away in West Africa were reported entering the Gambia, seeking to install the newly inaugurated president who would replace that nation’s violently anti-LGBT strongman.

Donald Trump takes the oath of office today in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of the White House via Wikimedia Commons)
New U.S. President Donald Trump takes the oath of office today in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of the White House via Wikimedia Commons)

New U.S. President Donald Trump, who took the oath of office Jan. 20, has said contradictory things about LGBT rights, as he has about almost every topic. But he has selected many anti-gay conservatives to key government positions, so LGBT rights advocates are worried that recent advances will be rolled back.

The slim evidence that Trump might not be a disaster for LGBT rights is that he has some LGBT supporters, including gay Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, and says he will be a “real friend” to the LGBT community.

But his vice president, Mike Pence, is solidly anti-gay, as are his picks for secretary of education and attorney general, among many others.

New Gambia President Adama takes the oath of office yesterday in Senegal. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)
New Gambian President Adama Barrow takes the oath of office yesterday in Senegal. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

In the Gambia, the loser in December’s presidential election was incumbent Yahya Jammeh, who received only 36.7 percent of the vote to challenger Adama Barrow’s 45.5 percent.

Until Jan. 20, Jammeh refused to cede power to Barrow, despite pleas and visits from the leaders of neighboring African countries. Barrow was inaugurated Jan. 19 in Senegal.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (Photo courtesy of AFP and Senenews.com)
Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (Photo courtesy of Senenews.com)

As troops from West African nations entered the Gambia on Jan. 20, there was reports that Jammeh was finally accepting his defeat and preparing to leave the country. That occurred after the Gambia’s chief of defense forces pledged his allegiance to Barrow. Barrow announced Jan. 20 on Twitter than Jammeh had agreed to step down. [Jammeh finally left the country late on Jan. 21.]

In the past, Jammeh has had LGBT people arrested, called homosexuals “vermin” and said the government would exterminate them like malaria-carrying mosquitoes. He threatened to slit gay men’s throats and declared that the letters LGBT must stand for “leprosy, gonorrhea, bacteria and tuberculosis.”

Barrow has been silent on LGBT rights.

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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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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