Target: Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of Human Rights for the United Nations
Goal: Stop vehemently homophobic president of Gambia from enforcing law that would sentence LGBT to life in prison
The witch hunt for ‘deviant homosexuals’ ensues as Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, passes yet another law that threatens the livelihood of the LGBT community. The country’s LGBT criminal code will now make it legal to issue life sentences to those suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The homophobic law puts the LGBT community at an even greater risk of abuse, as the country uses legislation and abuse of power to justify its discriminatory behavior. The criminal code identifies homosexual acts between consenting adults as “aggravated homosexuality,” which carries a punishment of up to life in prison. Among those who could be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” are “serial offenders” and people living with HIV who are thought to be gay or lesbian. Further, the law fails to constitute what “homosexuality” or a “homosexual act” is, and this lack of definition makes the law more likely to be used broadly and arbitrarily.
Gambia’s criminalization of homosexual activity already violates international law, and treats consensual, private sexual activity between same-sex adults in the same was as rape or incest. Because the statute is vague, it could be used to arrest and detain anyone who is believed to be a part of the LGBT community, contributing to the already violent, venomous and intolerant climate for LGBT people in the country.
So far, over a dozen people have been arrested since the law’s enactment in early November 2014, including a 17-year-old boy. According to a Human Rights Watch report, they endure torture, interrogation and embarrassment at the hands of Gambian authorities. Detainees are forced to “confess” to homosexual acts and expose the names of others they know to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. If they refuse, devices are forced into their anus or vagina to ‘test’ their sexual orientation. What’s more, this savage treatment violates international law, which forbids torture or ill-treatment.
Despite intense opposition and questioning by the United Nations, President Jammeh shows no signs of slowing down his homophobic rampage. The country’s new law not only disobeys African human rights violations, it contravenes its own constitution, which states that “…all people must be equal and free from discrimination before the law.”
Sign the petition to urge President Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Human Rights for the United Nations to abolish this new anti-gay legislation.
Dear President Baudelaire Ndong Ella,
President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia has signed yet another anti-gay bill into law, citing “aggravated homosexuality” as a new crime that carries a punishment of up to life in prison. The LGBT community in the country has already faced stark opposition to their lifestyle and threats to their well-being. This new law only enforces prejudice and heightens hostility towards the already marginalized and abused population.
President Jammeh’s law also treats consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex, which is not a crime, the same way as rape or incest. Further, the law’s ill-defined interpretation of homosexuality or homosexual acts, combined with collective ignorance and hatred, makes it more likely for Gambian authorities and homophobes to use the law broadly and arbitrarily.
Despite opposition from human rights groups, LGBT supporters, and even the United Nations, President Jammeh has created a perilous environment for LGBT people in the country to live in. And, he has even threatened to kill anyone who seeks asylum from the country due to its homophobic society.
The LGBT people of Gambia deserve justice, and they deserve it now. I urge you to overrule President Jammeh’s ridiculous law and help Gambia’s LGBT community from sinking further into oblivion.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jagga via Wikimedia Commons