Politicians in the Gambia have spoken about the possibility of repealing an anti-gay law that punishes those found guilty of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ with life imprisonment.
The draconian law was drawn up in 2014 by then-President Yahya Jammeh and targets 'serial offenders' of homosexuality as well as people living with HIV or AIDS.
Jammeh—who led the west African country for over two decades—was voted out in favour of opposition candidate Adama Barrow during the 2016 presidential election and the change in leadership could mean a step forward for LGBTQI rights in the small nation.
The country’s Foreign Secretary Ousainou Darboe told SMBC News that the anti-gay legislation has no place in modern Gambia.
“Homosexuality was perhaps something Jammeh imagined in order to bamboozle the clerics that were surrounding him… He used gay as a propaganda tool in order for him to continue to repress people.”
He added: “'Aggravated homosexuality' was a distraction and it should be taken out of the laws.”
Darboe is the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and was imprisoned by then President Jammeh in April 2016.
Darboe confirmed that the UDP would support the repealing of Jammeh’s anti-LGBTQI legislation.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, President Barrow has stated that “homosexuality has never been an issue” but it’s still unclear whether he will support the removal of the harsh anti-gay laws.