Gambia denies plans to relax homosexual laws

Gambia – The Gambian government has said that it would neither decriminalise homosexuality nor review its laws, following weeks of controversy over the issue in the small West African state.

The government, in a statement, denied widely circulated rumours of plans to soften homosexuality laws in exchange for aid funds.

“This is false political propaganda orchestrated to score cheap political points,” government spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh said.

He added that homosexuality cannot be decriminalised in the country… No matter what.

Sankareh said the government continues to be guided by the “norms of its people” and “has no plans to either decriminalise or even entertain a review of laws on homosexuality”.

In Gambia, homosexuality is illegal and carries a hefty prison sentence when convicted.

The statement on Tuesday follows weeks of pressure on the government to respond to apparently pro-gay social media posts from the European Union’s delegation in the Muslim-majority nation.

On May 17 – the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia – the EU delegation in Gambia uploaded posts urging that gay people not be excluded from society.

This spurred speculation that the EU would seek to tie aid funds to protect LGBT rights.

On Sunday, Ousainu Darboe, an ex-foreign minister spoke out against decriminalization.

“Homosexuality cannot be decriminalised in this country… No matter what,” said Darboe.

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