European Parliament concerned about LGBTI situation Gambia

In a resolution adopted last week, the European Parliament has called on Gambia to repeal its laws criminalising LGBTI people, and urged the government to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and the right to non-discrimination.

Gambian flagThe calls were made in a resolution addressing the current human rights crisis in the country.

The resolution notes that “LGBTI people are often victims of attacks, threats or arbitrary arrests by security forces.” Accordingly, the Parliament “[u]rges the Government of The Gambia and the regional authorities to take all necessary measures to stop the discrimination against, and attacks and criminalisation of, LGBTI people and to guarantee their right to freedom of expression, including the removal of provisions criminalising LGBTI people from the Gambian Criminal Code”

In October 2014 a new criminal code was adopted which included up to life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes “serial offenders” and people living with HIV who are deemed to be gay or lesbian.

Furthermore, the Parliament “[c]alls on the EU Delegation to the Gambia to use all tools at its disposal . . .  to actively monitor detention conditions in The Gambia.”

Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, commented: “Under the brutal rule of President Yahya Jammeh has gotten one of the worst human right records in Africa. LGBTI people are unfortunately a regular target, and live in a constant state of fear, just for being who they are.”

“The situation has worsened since the 2014 Criminal Code, which further criminalised LGBTI people. The EU must take a strong stance against the Gambian government and its leader, while standing in solidarity with all the citizens of this country.”

Tanja Fajon MEP, also Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, added: “Gambian authorities routinely target voices of dissent, including journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critics, as well as LGBTI people.”

“This house believes it is high time to take serious steps against the government, and consider freezing all non-humanitarian assistance to the government and imposing targeted sanctions on officials responsible for the human rights breaches.”

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