Gambia lawmakers pass bill punishing homosexual acts with life imprisonment
Gambia lawmakers pass bill punishing homosexual acts with life imprisonment

[JURIST] Gambia’s National Assembly [official website] passed a bill on Monday that imposes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts. The bill amends the criminal code to bring life sentences for “aggravated homosexuality,” which encompasses repeat offenders, those living with HIV/AIDS, and where a minor is involved. The bill will become law pending the signature of President Yahya Jammeh [BBC profile], who is one of Africa’s most vocal anti-gay leaders.

The bill is similar to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act [text, PDF] which was struck down [JURIST report] last month. One week later Ugandan Attorney General Peter Nyomb appealed [JURIST report] the constitutional court ruling. Many see the anti-homosexuality acts as a reaction to major legislative reforms in support of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in the US and other Western nations. Last November a Ugandan religious leader bolstered [JURIST report] the law when it was still a bill. In February of that year Ugandan MP David Bahati announced that clauses mandating the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” would be dropped [JURIST report] from the controversial bill. In 2010 US President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the US Congress in denouncing the bill [JURIST report]. Roughly two-thirds [BBC report, map] of African nations criminalize homosexuality, according to an Amnesty International report published earlier this year.