Seventeen men and three women accused of "unnatural offenses" and homosexuality are now on trial in the West African nation of The Gambia. The men were arrested at a club outside the capital of Banjul in April. The trial started on June 14, according to local reports.
[The commanding police officer] said that he received information that there were a group of boys suspected to be homosexuals, who were having a party at the Elite Fitness Centre. On his arrival, he parked his car outside between 10 pm and 11 pm, and stood near the gate when Sowe and Dibba were inside.
There was drumming, and he saw inside many boys, among them, the accused persons dressed like women and bags were hanging from their shoulders. Some of them were dancing to the drums. [Another officer] took pictures while the accused persons were dancing. [One defendant] insisted that Abdouile Sowe should delete the pictures, because he did not invite any photographer.
[Two defendants] said they were having a party. [After they] were arrested, he then called the OC to send reinforcements, adding that when they arrived, they surrounded the boys and arrested 17 boys and three girls.
Same-sex relations are banned in Gambia. Violators face up to 14 years in prison.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
President Yahya Jammeh has ruled The Gambia after seizing power in a military coup in 1994. In recent years the West African dictator has attracted international attention for his anti-gay rhetoric and violent threats. In May and June 2008, the Gambian leader ordered all homosexuals to leave the country and promised to "cut off the head"of any gay man remained in the West African nation. Jammeh has also threatened to fire all gay and lesbian officers serving in the military.
Jammeh has also been condemned by the international comnmunity after telling his citizens that he can "cure" HIV.
Gambia "Won't Be 'Bribed' to Accept Gays"
Gambian Pres. Threatens to "Cut Off the Head" of Gays
UN Rep Expelled After Doubting President's AIDS "Cure"
Gambian President Can Cure "HIV"
Gambian President Threatens to Fire All Gay Soldiers
UN Chief Urges African Leaders to Respect Gay Rights
Gambia President Renews