After escorting the president and his entourage from the outskirts of the capital, the protesters congregated at the July 22 Square, where a leading civil servant and ruling APRC apparatchik, Saikou Sanyang, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government, read a statement expressing solidarity with the Gambia Government’s zero tolerance stance on homosexuality.
He said: “We are a deeply religious people and live by the dictates of Allah as commanded in our religious teachings and therefore practice. Mr President, it just goes without saying that our intolerance to the unnatural and abominable malpractices of homosexuality and lesbianism on the one hand and on the other, our Government’s position is non-negotiable. It is on the bases of such ingrained religious, social, moral and ethical upbringing hinged on higher moral ground that we stand by our government’s position on zero tolerance to homosexuality and lesbianism. We shall neither be moved nor touched and are ready for any eventuality to defend our people and independence.
“It is important to state here and now the ethos, that the letter and spirit of our constitution irrespective of its legalistic architecture in both its totality and otherwise, is not devoid of our philosophical, religious, ethical, moral and social values as well as norms as a people. However, Mr President and more significantly, our stance on the principles of secularity in no way admit or accept the principle to be either coterminous or amenable to immorality and wayward sexual disorientation.
“This is just a clarion call to our legislators to know that we are in full support of their stance and further demand that they proceed to be at the forefront of legislations that are in antithesis to our moral fibre as a nation and as a people. We stand by you and your government and we are prepared. Those who choose homosexuality or lesbianism, the choice is theirs because we have manifested our position and it is clear and it is not negotiable.”
This public show of support came a few days after the US National Security Council (NSC) voiced concern over The Gambia’s moves to enact tough new legislation against homosexuality and block access to top United Nations human rights investigators.
An NSC spokeswoman said “protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is a cornerstone of US foreign policy, and we [US] will be guided by these values as we respond to these negative developments in The Gambia.”]]>