Two held in Gambia on gay charges

Source: BBC
3 June 2008

Two held in Gambia on gay charges

Two Spanish men have been arrested in The Gambia accused of making homosexual advances to taxi drivers, police say.

Last month, President Yahya Jammeh’s threatened to behead gay people at a political rally and said they had 24 hours to leave the country.

He promised “stricter laws than Iran” on homosexuality and said he would “cut off the head” of any gay person.

Correspondents say a crackdown on homosexuals could hit The Gambia’s vital tourism industry.

President Jammeh of GambiaMr Jammeh’s statements have been condemned by gay rights activists but the AP news agency says it was backed by the country’s Supreme Islamic Council, which said the president had taken a “principled stand”.

Correspondents say a number of homosexual men have fled to The Gambia from neighbouring Senegal after a crackdown there following arrests at a “gay wedding” in February.

Both countries are predominantly Muslim and President Jammeh cultivates an image of being a devout Muslim.

Homosexual sex is illegal in The Gambia, where those convicted of consensual homosexual acts face jail terms of up to 14 years, reports say.

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