Friday, May 23, 2008

Jammeh calls for decapitation of gay people

President Jammeh has lost the plot completely. In a recent statement condemning gay people he ordered them to leave the country and threatened to "cut off the head" of any gay person found in The Gambia, according to the BBC's report. This isn't a good position to be in for the leader of a country heavily dependent on North European beach tourists – there must be hundreds, if not thousands of gay tourists, expats and NGOs in The Gambia at any one time.

Although most African countries inherited the archaic laws banning homosexuality left by their respective colonial governments, most have used them very rarely. For a tourism-dependent government to scare airlines and tour operators like this – not to mention their own people – is the height of folly. But perhaps that shouldn't surprise us in The Gambia's case. The British foreign office has yet to respond on their travel advice page - the limit of their advice to gay people on their Gambia page is "Homosexuality is illegal in The Gambia." Their LGBT page is more useful.

In practice, despite what Jammeh says, gay visitors should not have any problems at all in the country. Certainly at Rough Guides we've never heard of any hassle (and the advice in the book is that you should experience no problems) – though it's hard now not to advise gay visitors to keep a very low profile and completely avoid local relationships. And if you're worried that your circumstances might cause you problems, you should definitely register with your embassy via their website.


  1. I wouldn't be so sure. There were those Spaniards and Gambians need little excuse to rip you off somehow. Used to be a wonderful place but now rotten to the core. I can't return.

  2. Yes, there is currently a lot of nervousness. The British travel advisory website updated its advice yesterday, as follows:

    "Although there are no laws specifically covering homosexuality in the Gambia, the Gambian Criminal Code states that any person who has, or attempts to have, "carnal knowledge" of any person "against the order of nature" is guilty of a felony and could face imprisonment. The Gambian courts may interpret homosexual acts as falling under this part of the Code. The Code also states that gross indecency between men, whether in public or private, is a felony and anyone committing this felony could face imprisonment. Any private citizen has the power of arrest for these offences. We have received reports that the police are actively enforcing this Code. There are no current reports of any attacks on homosexuals. There are no gay clubs in the Gambia."

    Reading between those last two lines, I'd say British authorities are hoping to discourage gay visitors.

  3. i salute the fine president of the gambia he puts MORALITY BEFORE $$ thats a fine macho mind that the world needs very much

  4. macho.. there is nothing machi about threatening to kill people. Is he afraid if he stands to close to a gay person he might catch it. It is not a disease. What about the people who commit adultry or the thriving prostitution trade that is going on there. Nothing said about that. Strange that a person would want to kill some one because of what they do in private. Some thing that does not consern them. Becareful of leaders of such stripes. Because your freedoms are next!!!!