Former top Gambia gov’t official’s warning against legalising gay rights sparks debate
Homosexuals in The Gambia still face a major struggle for acceptance with high degrees of intolerance and homophobia. The issue has generated a raging debate on Facebook between those in support of it and those against it. No less than former Secretary General and head of presidential affairs,Momodou Sabally, has made calls against legalising the practice. On his Facebook page, he admonished:
“I don't hate gay people and I believe that no one should attack a fellow human being (either physically or verbally) because of his or her sexual orientation. Certainly not in the name of our peaceful religion, Islam. “But I firmly hold the view that homosexuality should be treated as an illegal act in our laws and we should never allow people to promote this evil lifestyle in our country. I am also very happy that the majority of Gambians abhor homosexuality and as such, by the dictates of genuine democracy, homosexuality must never be legalised in this Holy land of Cultured Muslims and Christians, The Gambia”.
Former Top Government Official Momodou Sabally’s warning against legalising gay rights sparked debate
Momodou Sabally is no stranger to controversy around the issue, as his former boss Yahya Jammeh threatened to behead gay people.
In 2012, Gambian police arrested 18 people for homosexuality who were put on trial. They were later freed as prosecutors failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. In 2014, the government under Yahya Jammeh passed a law at the National Assembly imposing a life sentence for “aggravated homosexuality”. Despite Jammeh’s exit from power in the dying days of 2016, Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, has not evinced any commitment to changing the law. In media interviews, he has always been dismissive of the threat to LGBTQ in The Gambia, describing it as a non-issue. Responding to Momodou Sabally’s anti-gay rhetoric, police officer and law graduate from Aberdeen university, Almameh James Manga retorted: “Sabs, I beg to differ! To treat it as an illegality would be too harsh in my opinion! I think it’s a matter of choice and if one wants to live his or her life in a certain way so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others, I think it should be our interest to protect and defend such rights! It’s totally fine”. For Ansumana Bojang, the fact that the president of the United States does not support gay rights is indicative of something wrong with Africans trying to legalise it.
He wrote: “Momodou Sabally what human rights is he talking about? Even the USA President Trump has acknowledged being gay is evil and doesn't represent the American society. America is the largest promoter of human rights in the history of the world. If Donald Trump is saying such practices is evil, satanic and dangerous for humanity then its unfortunate to see decent Africans saying they've no problem with it just because of the so-called human rights. I agree with you Chief the time he has spent there is changing his life a lot and therefore, there is urgent need for him to return to Kanfenda”.