By Lamin Cham
The recently formed Gambia Alliance for National Unity, Ganu, over the weekend issued its position paper on the current debate about gay rights in The Gambia.
In it, Ganu argued that while Gambians will not tolerate gross human rights violations of their fellow Gambians and others based on sex or gender, it believes as a party, that LGBTI is an imported threat to our identity as Africans and Gambians and therefore the country should remain free from LGBTI promotion.
The statement from the party headed by former attorney general Sheikh Tijan Hydara, read: “We want to be clear. As a party, we will not tolerate discrimination or violence against anyone based on race, sex, age, gender, colour, disability, religion and education. Ganu will also not tolerate prejudice, harassment of anyone or hate crimes. Any such incidences will be punished to the full extent of the law. As a matter of fact, we are aware and agree that what two consenting adults do is their business. But as a party and a country, we will not be pressured, bullied and intimidated in supporting, encouraging and worse, promoting culturally distasteful conduct which is anathema to our religion and society.
“We are not being homophobic. Homophobia is a term often used to describe hostile reactions to lesbians and gay men, implying an undimensional construct of attitudes as expressions of irrational fears. We strongly believe that sexual relationships, marriage, family and nature are sacred and must be separated from matters profane. By locating heterosexual relationships, marriage and family life within the domain of nature, The Gambia as a people, and we as a party are protecting all of us from contact with things that threaten the sacred status of our religions and culture. Attempts to cast our heterosexual family relationships as otherwise will be rejected as attempts to subvert an epistemological order linked to our culture and religion.
“We understand that human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised. We know that for many people, sexual orientation is not a fashion statement, but an important attribute of what they want to become, so as a party we will not abet efforts to demonise, harass, intimidate, discriminate, and injure anyone who has a different viewpoint from us. However, we will also not turn a ‘blind eye’ when we see or know that homosexuality is being actively promoted in The Gambia. The Gambia, and especially our party Ganu, will never endorse or even entertain a conversation over gay issues. Yes, we are a small country, but we are a sovereign state, and not bound by the cultural and moral standards of other nations.”