Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has warned foreign diplomats his country would not be “bribed” with aid to accept homosexuality.
His comments late Saturday come less than two weeks after 19 people, including Gambians, Senegalese and Nigerians were arrested and charged with indecent practices after being “suspected of homosexuality”.
“If you are to give us aid for men and men or for women and women to marry, leave it. We don’t need your aid because as far as I am the president of the Gambia, you will never see that happen in this country,” he said.
The opening of parliament on Saturday was attended by the ambassadors from Britain and the United States, who have both said they will consider gay rights when handing out aid, infuriating many African nations who consider homosexuality “un-African”.
On April 10, 15 men arrested in a popular bar were charged for “indecent practices in a public place”, a euphemism for same-sex relationships punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.
Another four were later added to the charges.
Gambia’s treatment of gays has long drawn criticism from international observers, who accuse the small west African nation of homophobia.
Jammeh, who has repeatedly denounced the practice, in 2008 even vowed to behead gays — a threat he later retracted.
“Sometimes you hear of a lot of noise about the laws of this country or my pronouncements,” said Jammeh. “Let me make it very clear that … you will not bribe me to do what is evil and ungodly,” he added.