The President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has said that his country will leave the Commonwealth just days after he told the United Nations General Assembly that gays and those who promote homosexuality want to end human existence. He had previously claimed to have invented a cure for HIV/ AIDS.
Gambia joined the Commonwealth in 1965, the same year as it gained independence from the British Empire. The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, the international body that was created out of what was formerly the British Empire. The Commonwealth states that its core values are “democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and opportunity for all.” Earlier this year, before Gambia left the institution, PinkNews reported that the Commonwealth’s core values of freedom, peace and the rule of law do not extend to LGBT people as 41 of the then members jailed people for being gay.
In a statement to state television, the country’s government said: “The government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism.”
The Commonwealth had proposed to create a mission in the country’s capital Banjul to protect human rights, media rights and the fight against corruption. A recent British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) report said: “President Jammeh makes frequent calls for a crackdown on crime. His zero tolerance on homosexuality led to the arrest of 20 individuals for ‘attempting to commit an unnatural act’. Other sections of society are also targeted.”
On Friday, President Jammeh told the United Nations General Assembly: “Those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence. It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behaviour.”
“Homosexuality in all its forms and manifestations which, though very evil, antihuman as well as anti-Allah, is being promoted as a human right by some powers.”
President Jammeh horrified scientists in 2007 by announcing that he has developed a “miracle cure” for HIV/AIDS. Hundreds of Gambians lined up to be “cured” by President Yahya Jammeh, who treats his 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.
Homosexuality in The Gambia
Gay sex is illegal in The Gambia and those convicted can face up to 14 years in prison. The Gambia came under the spotlight earlier this year when a lesbian asylum seeker faced deportation from the UK to the country where she feared she would be persecuted for being gay. The President of The Gambia last year attacked foreign countries who he claimed were trying to use aid as a means to bribe countries into accepting homosexuality. David Cameron said that countries that persecuted LGBT could face cuts in aid.