Yahya Jammeh, the President of the Gambia, has said those who think gay rights are human rights in the African state are making a “great mistake”.

Jammeh previously threatened to decapitate gays and claims to be able to cure AIDS.

The South Africa Press Association reports Jammeh saying: “We know what human rights are. Human beings of the same sex cannot marry or date.”

He added that homosexuality came from an alien cultures, saying: “If you think it is human rights to destroy our culture, you are making a great mistake because if you are in the Gambia, you are in the wrong place then.”

Jammeh has ruled the Gambia since a military coup in 1994.

His comments are in contrast to the desire voiced by Western nations for countries to protect the human rights of their gay citizens.

Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech to the UN in December, saying: “Being gay is not a western invention, it is a human reality.”

The British government last year confirmed it would redirect aid away from governments with poor human rights records.

The move prompted many leaders to censure the UK and condemn homosexuality in their own countries.

Article 144 of the Criminal Code makes any same-sex sexual act punishable with up to 14 years imprisonment.

In 2008, Jammeh vowed to introduce laws which were stricter than those in Iran, where gay acts between men are punishable by death. The Gambia is a mainly Muslim country.

The president retracted a threat to decapitate gays but said they would be driven out of their homes.

The year before he announced a “miracle cure” for HIV/AIDS.

Hundreds of Gambians lined up to be “cured” by Jammeh, who treated patients by rubbing a mysterious herbal paste into their ribcages and then instructing them to swallow a bitter yellow drink, followed by two bananas.

The therapy is administered repeatedly over several weeks.

Late last year he told the BBC the HIV/AIDs treatment programmes were going “very well” and that his critics could “go to hell”. He also said he could cure hypertension and asthma in ten minutes.

The Gambia is the smallest African mainland country and is largely Muslim. It has only 1.7 million citizens and is mainly economically reliant on farming and tourism.