It’s been reported that three men have been arrested for being gay in Gambia, while police have gone door to door to arrest other suspected gay people in the capital.
According to the Fatu Radio website, Banjul police arrested the men at the Duplex nightclub and detained them at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA),
The report claims that the move led to a number of gays and lesbians fleeing to neighbouring countries and that police officers went to people’s homes with a suspected gay man in tow in order to identify other gay people.
An NIA source told reporter B.K Faal that the crackdown was a “witch hunt” and that officials have been unable to really tell who is gay and who is not.
Journalist Fatu Camara wrote on Facebook on Thursday that the three arrested men were still in jail after six days, without having been brought before a judge.
“The constitution of The Gambia dictates that nobody should be held for 72hrs without being released or charged, meaning that the rights of these three is violated whether they are murderers or gay,” she said.
Camara added: “I understand they are held in a very dark room with no light and that they can barely see each other…”
In September it was revealed that Gambian lawmakers had passed a Ugandan-style Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but it has not yet been made law by notoriously homophobic President Yahya Jammeh.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Gambia under British colonial era laws; those found guilty of “unnatural offenses” face up to 14 years in prison.
Over the years, President Jammeh has expressed an obsessive hatred towards gays and lesbians, calling them “vermin” and stating that “LGBT can only stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhoea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis.”
In 2008, Jammeh – who has been president of Gambia since 1996 – infamously gave gays and lesbians 24 hours to leave the country or face having their heads cut off.