Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Gambia’s national assembly criminalizes cross-dressing, male prostitution

English: The Bisexual flag and Gay flag put to...
English: The Bisexual flag and Gay flag put together (Alphabetical order, "Bisexual" before "Homosexual".) with heterosexual symbol over it. It is for straight people who very proudly support gay, lesbian, and bisexual rights and issues. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lawmakers in a tiny West African Republic, The Gambian on April 16, 2013 adopted a new law that criminalizes male prostitution, cross-dressing and the singing abusive songs in public.

The law reads: “Any male person who dresses or is attired in the fashion of a woman in a public place or who practices sodomy as a means of livelihood or as a profession shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with a fine of D20, 000 or with both.”

The amendments to the Criminal Code Act also criminalize “being irritating in public” and “refusing to maintain” oneself.

The country’s Justice Minister Lamin Jobarteh, who brought the amendments of the Criminal Code to the National Assembly, claims the move reflects “current sociopolitical realities”. 

The Gambia’s ruling-party dominated National Assembly endorsed the law which the President, Yahya Jammeh is expected to assent to. 

Also on April 16, 2013, the National Assembly amended Section 114 of the Criminal Code that empowers courts to impose a jail term of five years or a fine of D50, 000 (about USD1, 650) on convicts of false information.

The law previously allowed a jail term of not more than six months or a fine of D500 (about USD17) or both.

Homosexuals not welcomed

Last month, the tiny West African country’s leader declared that “homosexuals are not welcome in The Gambia”.

“If you are a homosexual in the Gambia, you better hibernate or risked being beheaded and buried six feet deep. Homosexuality is anti-humanity. I have never seen homosexual chicken, or turkey,” Yahya Jammeh said.

He added: “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. We want the population to grow. There will be children in this country. Homosexuality is anti-god, anti-human, and anti-civilization. Homosexuals are not welcome in the Gambia.”

“If we catch you, you will regret why you are born. I have buffalos from South Africa and Brazil and they never date each other. We are ready to eat grass but we will not compromise on this. Allowing homosexuality means allowing satanic rights. We will not allow gays here,” Jammeh warns.

In January 2013, the Gambian leader pulled out of talks with the European Union on political reforms. Some of EU recommendations include the providing greater press freedom, free expression, reopening of closed media houses, and refraining from prosecuting persons on the basis of their sexuality.  

Written by Modou S. Joof

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