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City of Banjul
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Letters: On the matter of LGBT rights

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Dear editor,
The past couple of weeks have witnessed an interesting assortment of burning issues not all of which can be sufficiently addressed in a rush. However, among those issues, the lone voice calling for respect for the human rights of the LGBTs stands out as the most controversial one. It’s therefore not surprising that it generated a kind of reaction that has not hitherto been heard of in the religious circles.

Imams of the various mosques in the length and breadth of the country were understandably in combat gear in unison in their stiff opposition to the whole idea, considering it an aberration that cannot and should not be condoned in a conservative country like ours, 95% of whose population is Muslim. The clarion call for a mass crusade against this untenable recommendation contained in the report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) formed the core message put across a number of pulpits.

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Matters came to a head when my own good friend and dear brother, Imam Baba Leigh joined what was perceived by many as the pro-LGBT chorus. Quoting a saying of the Holy Prophet and inadvertently thinking that it was a verse of the Holy Qur’an, though followed later by an apology for this grotesque slip of the tongue, constituted the last straw. What ensued was a violent salvo of unprecedented assault that continues to gather more intensity as we scribble this post. It’s thus natural for me to have failed in my bid to resist the temptation of joining the bandwagon of commentators on this topical issue.

While it’s a known fact that like many other societies in the world, same sex proclivity does exist in our own society as well albeit in a less pronounced degree perhaps, that doesn’t take away the more established fact that this abnormal sexual inclination runs counter to our age-old traditions, not to talk of divine religions and indeed traditional belief systems.

Regrettably, the report in question was submitted on the heels of the statement released by the representative of the European Union in The Gambia which was construed as a call for the recognition of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. This added another dimension to the debate as it was widely considered one of the conditionalities attached to The Gambia’s eligibility to continue to be beneficiary of development assistance from the European Union. Whether or not this was the case, was a matter of conjecture until the Gambia Government pronounced itself on the issue through a press release recently. Even so, the majority view seems to remain unchanged that calling for the recognition of the rights of LGBTs is an insult to society in its totality.

However, the dust seems to have settled in the ultimate with the consensual conclusion that the said recommendation set out in the report of NHRC is that it has been comprehensively turned down by Gambians in general and Muslims among them in particular

MIS Gassama

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