Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Saturday used a speech to once again rail against homosexuality.
Gambia Affairs, a Gambian news website that operates independently from the country’s government, reported that Jammeh told soldiers in the country’s capital of Banjul that “the Bible that came first condemns homosexuality and the Bible is the book of the Almighty Allah and the Quran.” The Gambian president also appeared to sharply criticize the U.S. and other countries that have criticized his government’s LGBT rights record.
“Let me make it very clear that if they think that they can be homosexuals and want to impose homosexuality on the globe, they are doomed,” said Jammeh, according to Gambia Affairs. “They say I am intolerant…and that homosexuals are a minority that is being oppressed in this country.”
“All the religious books condemn homosexuality and there is a so-called power of democracy that says that homosexuality is a right,” he added. “All empires before collapsed not at the time they were weakest, but at the peak of their might and when they equated themselves with the Almighty Allah. So this evil empire of homosexuals will also go down the dirty drain and garbage of hell.”
Jammeh’s speech came roughly two weeks after two U.S. citizens allegedly led a failed coup to overthrow his government.
“Let me warn those countries that think they are powers,” said Jammeh, according to Gambia Affairs. “They may be evil powers, but the Gambia is a righteous power protected by God. We will prevail by the grace of the Almighty Allah. All forces of evil that have bad intention towards the Gambia will perish. We will not change our way of life.”
Gambian president claims homosexuality is ‘un-African’
Jammeh came to power in the small West African country in a 1994 coup.
Jammeh last fall signed into law a bill under which those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” face life in prison. Reports indicate Gambian authorities subsequently arrested more than a dozen people they accused of being gay.
Jammeh last year described gay men as “vermin” during a speech that commemorated Gambia’s independence from the U.K. He said during a 2013 speech at the U.N. General Assembly that homosexuality is among the three “biggest threats to human existence.”
“Homosexuality is un-African,” said Jammeh during an interview with an Iranian television station that Gay Gambia, an LGBT newsgroup, posted on its Twitter account on Monday. “Even if the whole world accepts it, I, Yahya Jammeh, will not in accept it in the Gambia.”
The Washington Blade could not immediately confirm when the interview took place, but Jammeh referenced the Ebola epidemic in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The reporter also asked the Gambian president about how he would react if a member of his family or somebody he knows were to come out as gay.
“I have sworn to uphold the laws and the Constitution of this country to the letter, irrespective of who is involved,” said Jammeh. “I don’t have one set of rules for the whole country and one set of rules for my family because we are all Gambians.”
Jammeh is ‘disgusting’
The European Union in 2014 delayed a 150 million euro aid package to Gambia after Jammeh failed to implement 17 reforms that include the repeal of the death penalty.
Advocates last August criticized President Obama’s decision to invite Jammeh to the White House during a summit that drew dozens of African heads of state to Washington. They nevertheless welcomed last month’s announcement that Gambia is no longer eligible to take part in a duty-free trade program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to access U.S. markets.
Fatou Camara, a journalist and Jammeh’s former press secretary who fled to the U.S. last year after Gambian authorities accused her with trying to undermine the government, on Monday noted to the Blade that those arrested for alleged homosexuality remain “held incommunicado.” She said officials have yet to file any charges against them.
“Jammeh is disgusting,” said Camara. “With nobody to stand up for them in Banjul, we can only pray and hope that they are still alive.”
Jeffrey Smith of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights echoed Camara’s concerns.
“When Jammeh shouts vitriol, he backs it up with concrete actions, and that’s why his latest rhetoric is so concerning,” Smith told the Blade, referring to Jammeh’s latest anti-gay comments. “Yahya Jammeh is a brutal dictator, one of the world’s worst. His vicious crackdown on The Gambia’s LGBT community is but one example of the wide range of human rights violations that have routinely occurred under his two decade reign.”
The State Department did not return the Blade’s request for comment.