By Omar Bah
The UDP leader Ousainu Darboe has made it categorically clear that his party is against the decriminalisation of anti-homosexuality laws in The Gambia.
“Homosexuality cannot be decriminalised in this country. UDP will be among those who will fight against it. No matter what. We will not accept that law and whosoever advocates for it we will fight you with our tongues to ensure that you don’t succeed,” Darboe told UDP online Bantaba TV over the weekend.
The debate over the issue of homosexuality and the rights of LGBT persons have attracted all sorts of condemnation from Gambians following attempts by the EU representative to promote gay rights in The Gambia.
The UDP leader, a veteran lawyer, added: “If you want to help us based on these issues, then you are not helping us, you want to enslave us. But the UDP will not take support from somebody because you want to promote homosexuality. That will not happen in this country.
“Those who are saying I once advocated for the repealing of anti-gay laws – is it that they have not listened to Almami Taal’s comments or my koriteh message? Those who know me know very well that I don’t condone ungodly things.”
Mr Darboe said the onus is on the government whether to reject or accept the NHRC recommendations for the protection of gay rights.
“But I don’t think there will be any government in this country that will take that. This is a religious country comprised of Muslims and Christians. We will not accept that act of dogs in this country. It is anti-God,” he added.
Darboe, however, welcomed the NHRC recommendation for the criminalisation of torture.
“Obviously torture should not happen anywhere and whosoever tortured people whether privately or as an agent of the state should be prosecuted. In this modern age, torture doesn’t have space in this country. Government has the right to arrest people and investigate them but they do not have the right to torture anyone,” he said.
Homosexuals in Gambia faced up to 14 years in prison until 2014, when Jammeh signed a new law extending the term to life in jail. An amendment to the country’s criminal code introduced the new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for, among other categories, “repeat offenders” and suspected gays and lesbians living with HIV.
Darboe said with all the revelations of gross human rights violations at the TRRC, he would not expect the government to ignore its recommendations just because some imams had begged for forgiveness.
“What I expect from the imams is for them to pray and remind the president that he should be righteous and avoid repeating the mistakes made by his predecessor,” he added.
New Yundum lands
The seasoned constitutional law said UDP parliamentarians should decide for themselves whether they want to return the plots of lands given to them in New Yundum.
“That is an individual decision. But for the government to give plots of land to lawmakers, that is not new in The Gambia. Even during the time of presidents Jawara and Jammeh government allocated lands to NAMs and ministers,” he added.
The UDP leader said Sheriffo Sonko’s letter calling for the party’s executive to resign is under review by the central committee.
Darboe said a UDP government will not discriminate or punish the people of Foni for Jammeh’s actions.
“If you want to discriminate against Foni, you are just disturbing yourself because the right you have in this country as a president, is the same right that the people of Foni have. I see no reason why a UDP government should discriminate Foni. We will not revenge against anyone – we will always follow due process,” he added.