HUMANS RIGHTS WATCH
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(Dakar) – Gambia’s recent passage of a homophobic law puts the already persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community at even greater risk of abuse, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.
The new crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” which carries punishments of up to life in prison, is part of a criminal code President Yahya Jammeh approved on October 9, 2014, documents uncovered in mid-November show. Among those who could be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” are “serial offenders” and people living with HIV who are deemed to be gay or lesbian. Exactly what constitutes “homosexuality” or a “homosexual act” is not defined in Gambian law. That makes Gambia’s criminalization of homosexual activity – which already violates international law – even more likely to be used broadly and arbitrarily.
“The new law treats consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex – which should not be a crime – in the same way as rape and incest,” said Steve Cockburn, deputy regional director for West and Central Africa at Amnesty International.
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