By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com May 16 2014 2:10 PM ET
The president of Gambia has threatened to kill any citizen of his country who cites persecution of LGBT people in seeking asylum abroad.
“Some people go to the West and claim they are gays and that their lives are at risk in the Gambia, in order for them to be granted a stay in Europe. If I catch them I will kill them,” President Yahya Jammeh said in a speech in the city of Basse last week, according to African news service APA.
Possibly alluding to a 2013 parliamentary report that challeged procedures for those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, Jammeh claim that British authorities think some Gambian refugees are lying about being gay, and have decided to administer tests to confirm asylum-seekers’ sexual orientation.
Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia in dictatorial fashion since 1994, is well known for his antigay views. In a speech earlier this year celebrating the nation’s Independence Day, he referred to gay people as “vermins.” Last year, addressing the United Nations, he called same-sex attraction “more deadly than all natural disasters put together” and one of the “biggest threats to human existence.” In 2008 he told gay and lesbian Gambians to leave the country or face execution by beheading.
As it is, Gambian law criminalizes sexual contract between people of the same gender, with a punishment of up to 14 years in prison.