Gambia’s National Assembly passed a bill last month that imposes a life sentence in jail for “homosexual acts,” the Associated Press reported Monday. The leader of the minority in government told the AP the lifetime prison sentence is for “aggravated homosexuality,” which in the West African country targets “repeat offenders and people living with HIV/AIDS.” Homosexuality was already a criminal offense in Gambia punishable by 14 years in jail.
“Gambia has previously launched occasional crackdowns on the country’s gays,” the AP reports. “A 2012 raid at a poolside birthday party in the capital, Banjul, led to the arrests of 18 men, some of whom said they were interrogated and beaten before undergoing a very public trial that destroyed their reputations.” The bill—which all but two of the Assembly’s legislators voted for—now goes before the country’s president, Yahya Jammeh, to be signed into law. Here’s what Jammeh—who came to power in a 1994 coup—said in February about homosexuals in Gambia:
Homosexuality will never be tolerated and in fact will attract the ultimate penalty since it is intended to bring humanity to an inglorious extinction. We will fight these vermins called Homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes; if not more aggressively. We will therefore not accept any friendship, aid or any other gesture that is conditional on accepting Homosexuals or L.G.B.T. as they are now baptised by the powers that promote them. As far as I am concerned, L.G.B.T can only stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhoea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis; all of which are detrimental to human existence.