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NAM vows to reject new constitution unless clause on marriage is clarified

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By Omar Bah

The National Assembly Member for Foñi Kansala has vowed to campaign against the new draft constitution unless the government properly explains the clause dealing with marriage.

The government is planning to send the draft constitution, which was controversially rejected by mainly National Assembly Members loyal to President Adama Barrow, to a referendum later this year.

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On the issue of marriage, the New Constitution states that a man and a woman of full age and capacity have the right to marry and find a family, and such marriage shall be based on the free and full consent of the man and the woman, while the 1997 Constitution states that men and women of full age and capacity shall have the right to marry and find a family, and marriage shall be based on the free and full consent of the intended parties.

But according to the Honourable Almameh Gibba, Gambians, especially the people of Foñi Kansala, whom he represents at the National Assembly, need a proper explanation of the clause because there are concerns that it could promote homosexuality in The Gambia.

“I believe it is important to ensure that our constitution is culturally and religiously harmless. We also need a constitution that factors in the perspective of the majority of Gambians, or else it will defeat its purpose because, according to my findings, this constitution is open to promoting homosexuality,” he said.

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He said the majority of Gambians are against any form of homosexuality, and any attempt to promote it directly or indirectly will be resisted.

“The manner in which that marriage clause is designed could mean that a man is at liberty to marry his fellow man. So, it is important that we address that issue first before thinking of going to a referendum,” he said.

Honourable Gibba said the draft constitution has not also given the country’s religious groups the protection they deserve.

“It has not also been clear about the issues of inheritance, and that is a fundamental error that needs to be corrected,” he added.

He called on the government, opposition parties, and civil society to ensure the draft constitution addresses issues that concern Gambians.

“I have no reason to vote for a constitution that has no values for my religion and culture. I feel like those who prepared the draft were influenced by the West to do whatever they (West) wanted to impose on us. So, I refuse to be enslaved again,” he argued.

He said the new constitution should have been based on Gambian values and beliefs.

“We should move away from dependency on western beliefs and norms. We cannot continue to copy everything from the West. I want us to recognise an important problem that exists in today’s world. The threat to religious freedom is real … religious freedom is in decline throughout the world, and the commitment to religious freedom is diminishing even in modern liberal democracies such as ours, which have historically defended it,” he said.

Honourable Gibba said serious violations of religious freedom are occurring in many countries.

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