The Bill discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, denying them equal rights to which they are entitled under international law. It will have a devastating impact upon the lives of LGBT people in the Gambia
The Equal Rights Trust has today written to the President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, urging him not to sign the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill 2014 which includes a provision criminalising “aggravated homosexuality” and punishing it with life imprisonment.
On 25 August 2014, the National Assembly of the Gambia passed the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill which, inter alia, creates an offence of “aggravated homosexuality”, committed where a person engages in same-sex sexual activity and, for example, is a “serial offender” or has HIV. The offence is punishable by life imprisonment.
The Equal Rights Trust has led the calls of human rights organisations worldwide in condemning the Bill, with Dr Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Trust, stating:
“The Bill discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, denying them equal rights to which they are entitled under international law. It will have a devastating impact upon the lives of LGBT people in the Gambia who, already suffering persecution, will now face the daily threat of life imprisonment.”
This Bill is part of a homophobic trend, following similar draconian legislation in Nigeria and Uganda. The Equal Rights Trust will work in solidarity with its partners in Africa and elsewhere to counteract this trend and ensure all people their rights to freedom, dignity and equality.
Today, the Equal Rights Trust has written to President Jammeh, setting out how the Bill would violate the Gambia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and would legitimise, institutionalise, increase and perpetuate the profound discrimination and gross inequality suffered by gay and bisexual men in the country.
The letter also calls upon the Gambian authorities to repeal and amend all other existent provisions of the criminal law which punish consensual same-sex intimacy.
To read the Equal Rights Trust’s letter to President Jammeh, please click here.