By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com February 19 2014 5:12 PM ET
The president of The Gambia has declared war on the country’s gay people, which he likened to “vermin” that must be eradicated like “malaria-causing mosquitoes” in a recent address.
"We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively," President Yahya Jammeh said during a televised speech Tuesday, the African nation’s independence day, reports Reuters.
In the address, which commemmorated The Gambia's 49th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom, Jammeh brushed off threats by the U.K. and other nations to cut aid to countries with antigay laws.
"We will therefore not accept any friendship, aid, or any other gesture that is conditional on accepting homosexuals or LGBT, as they are now baptized by the powers that promote them," he said. "As far as I am concerned, LGBT can only stand for leprosy, gonorrhea, bacteria, and tuberculosis, all of which are detrimental to human existence.”
Jammeh’s homophobic remarks come in the wake of those of another African leader, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. He recently told lawmakers he intended to sign the country's draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would mean life imprisonment for some LGBT people in that country. The announcement prompted President Obama to speak out against Museveni’s actions.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda,” he said. “It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.”
The Gambia, where “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” can be punishable by up to 14 years in prison according to the country’s criminal code, is among 37 African nations where homosexuality is illegal.