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At least 15 men arrested in the Gambia, suspected of being gay

Reports that a raid on a bar in the capital Banjul resulted in 15 arrests, some may be under-age
Banjul, the capital of the Gambia

Reports from the Gambia say that at least 15 men 'suspected of homosexuality' were arrested at a bar in the suburbs of the capital Banjul late on Monday night.

Gambian police sources told AFP that they had received a tip off that people were ‘publicly displaying or promoting homosexual activities’.

Uncomfirmed reports say the men were charged with 'indecent practice between male' on Tuesday and they all pleaded not guilty, without legal representation. Relatives were in tears and some said some of the accused are under-age and students. All the accused were taken to prison after the hearing.

Like many in Islamic African countries, Gambian authorities have a brutal attitude towards homosexuality. In 2008 President Jammeh gave an ultimatum for gay people to leave the country and threatened to 'cut of the head' of any homosexual caught in his country. He later retracted his threats to kill gay people, after pressure from Human Rights Watch, but not to expel them from the Gambia.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office's advice on travel to the Gambia states that: ‘Although there are no laws specifically covering homosexuality in the Gambia, the Gambian Criminal Code states that any person who has or attempts to have, "carnal knowledge" of any person "against the order of nature" is guilty of a felony and could face imprisonment. The Gambian courts may interpret homosexual acts as falling under this part of the Code... We have received reports that the police are actively enforcing this Code.’

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