The President of The Gambia confirmed making violent anti-gay threats, such as vowing to "cut off the head" of "any homosexual"—but dismissed them as rhetoric and insisted he was "not a monster." That according to a series of confidential State Department cables leaked by WikiLeaks and released in the Spanish newspaper El Pais (translation).
Read the cable HERE.
The February 2010 meeting between American Ambassador Barry L. Wells and President Yahya Jammeh reveal the American government was concerned about extreme homophobic statements from the West African leader, such as the decapitation threat and an order for all homosexuals to leave the country.
"Yes I did make those comments but did I actually cut off anyone's head? Have I ever arrested anyone for being gay? No, but Senegal has arrested and imprisoned someone for being gay and they receive the [Millennium Development Goals]. There are gays here in The Gambia, I know that. But they live in secret and that is fine with me, as long as long as they go about their business in private we don't mind. But if you are talking about marrying in this country, that will never happen. We will never accept gays."
The reference to neighboring Senegal was to the December 2008 arrest of eight gay HIV/AIDS activists. After being sentenced to eight years hard labor for "indecent conduct and unnatural acts", the convictions were overturned in April 2009.
"The dozens of cables sent to Washington by diplomats on the continent [show] homophobia is rampant in the streets and government offices in Africa," reports El Pais.
Jammeh also threatened to fire all gay and lesbian officers serving in the military.
The Gambian dictator's private comments are similar to those by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni—whose 25-year term was extended over the weekend—who also dismissed extreme anti-gay public statements.
Some Background ...
Gambian Pres. Threatens to "Cut Off the Head" of Homosexuals
UN Rep Expelled After Doubting President's AIDS "Cure"
Gambian President Can Cure "HIV"
WIKILEAKS: Cables Show Ugandan Mockery of Kato