Gambia has passed a bill that imposes life sentences for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ in what is already one of the most homophobic countries in Africa.
Officials told AP on Monday that the bill was passed last month and gives life sentences to ‘serial offenders,’ people living with HIV and those suspected of having sex with someone who is under 18, disabled or drugged.
Suspects who are parents or guardians of the other person or ‘in authority over’ him or her are also targeted by the bill.
Gambia already punishes gay sex by up to 14 years in jail under a law that was extended to women in 2005.
A draft of the bill seen by AP contains language identical to Uganda’s controversial anti-gay bill that was struck down by lawmakers last month.
The bill now awaits approval from outspoken anti-gay President Yahya Jammeh, an autocratic ruler who seized power in a 1994 coup.
In 2008 he threatened to ‘behead’ all gay people in the Islamic country and in February branded homosexuals vermin that should be squashed like mosquitos.
‘We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively,’ Jammeh said on state television.
In 2012, 18 gay men were arrested in a raid of a poolside birthday party in the capital Banjul for ‘indecent practice between males.’