Gambian President Defends Homophobia on Religious Grounds

Gambia: President, Foreign Minister Portray Anti-Gay Persecution as Defense of Islam, Africa

We have reported previously on Gambia’s viciously anti-gay president Yahya Jammeh. Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder reports on the politics behind the latest wave of violence, which includes raids on people’s homes and arrests carried out by the National Intelligence Agency:

But the raids come as Jammeh appears to have ratcheted up his presence on the international stage, which some observers suggest is part of a strategy to court support and aid from Africa and the Middle East as he has lost support from nations like the United States and Great Britain.

Last fall, Jammeh pulled the Gambia out of the Commonwealth of former British colonies. That was just days after declaring at the United Nations in New York, “Those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence. It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behavior…. Homosexuality in all its forms and manifestations which, though very evil, antihuman as well as anti-Allah, is being promoted as a human right by some powers.”

Fatou Camara, who briefly served as Jammeh’s communications director and hosted a Gambian television program before she was charged with sedition and fled to the United States, noted that the current wave of arrests took place just before Jammeh made a state visit to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. While there, he signed a cooperation agreement with Qatar’s leader, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Camara said that she spoke with sources who accompanied Jammeh on the visit, and that they told her he was using this issue to make the case for Qatari support. “This is one point he used to talk to the emir: ‘I cannot get along with the West because they want [me] to promote homosexuality,’” she said.

Gambia’s Foreign Minister Bala Garba Jahumpa went on television last week in a prime-time address to say the country would refuse to negotiate with the European Union over its anti-gay laws, regardless of how much foreign aid might be in question. According to Pink News, he “attacked homosexuality as ‘Satanic’ ungodly behaviour, which is ‘detrimental to human existence.’”

“Our country’s socio-economic development depends only on the Almighty Allah’s benevolence.

“We also hereby declare that The Gambia will always be an independent, dignified and Allah worshipping Muslim country where our way of life; our laws will be based on our Islamic values, that is, the strict adherence to our Islamic faith.

“This being the case, any agreement, convention or protocol that is at variance with our Islamic faith, economic prosperity and our national security interest will be surely rejected outright.

“We will never be a party to such decadence and will never ratify such conventions.

“Our laws are promulgated to ensure peace, security and our African and Islamic heritage and will be strengthened and enforced to the letter and spirit and will not be repealed.”

His speech denounced the history of colonialism as well as the treatment of African migrants currently living in Europe.

“They facilitate the continuous looting of African resources by the same forces that enslaved Africans; who still believe that we blacks are monkeys and not human and, therefore, should not benefit from our Allah-given vast natural resources that we have on the African continent.”

“This being the case, the Republic of The Gambia will never be a party to the so-called EPA with the European Union as it is designed to continue the same exploitation and impoverishment of the African continent. We will rather die than be colonised twice, enslaved twice and be robbed of our resources; our dignity and our humanity twice.”

“Our relationship with any country or any bloc will be based on mutual respect and the respect of the sovereignty and independence and religious values of our country. We will no longer be a member of any sub-regional, regional and international bloc or organisation that will allow the continuous racist exploitation and humiliation and the looting of the African continent in particular and the black race in general.”

“In conclusion, we are no longer going to entertain and dialogue with the European Union either directly or through the sub-regional, regional and international blocs to which we are members.”

“Allah willing, we will continue to develop our country in dignity and prosperity with our independence and Islamic values intact. We will also continue to depend on and worship only the Almighty Allah.”

Uganda:  Will Anti-Gay Law be Christmas ‘Gift’ to the Nation?

We have reported on efforts by anti-gay Ugandan lawmakers to draft a new bill to replace the Anti-Homosexuality Act that was thrown out by courts based on a procedural issue. Now a lawmaker on the committee drafting the new bill says it is ready and to pass to that the entire country can“celebrate it as a Christmas gift.”

As Reuters reports, [President Yoweri] Museveni is walking a political tightrope with regard to the new antihomosexuality bill. Museveni is keenly aware of the political backlash that befell his country in the wake of his signature on the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, which saw tens of millions in aid dollars suddenly vanish from Western and European nations, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and ultimately, the United States. Such foreign aid makes up a full 20 percent of the country’s budget and helps prop up Museveni’s administration, notes Reuters.

Despite the international outrage at the law’s enactment, Museveni was actually greeted by throngs of cheering Ugandans who carried him through the streets of Kampala in a five-hour celebration of “thanksgiving” after he signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in February. A repeat of such adulation could prove a campaign stunt too tempting to decline.

Kapya Kaoma at Political Research Associates reports that in advance of the new legislation,Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Parliament, is “ramping up her U.S. conservative-fed talking points.” Kaoma notes that the headline of a Uganda Daily Monitor story about a recent speech was “Gay groups targeting church leaders, schools – Kadaga.”

Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of St. Stephen’s Church in Uganda on November 30, Kadaga repeated the U.S. culture warriors’ claim that “computers and books donated to (underfunded and technology starved) schools are installed with software and literature that promote homosexuality in the institutions.” She went on to say, “Homosexuals are recruiting members of religious institutions,” and homosexuals are now “adopting” vulnerable children and turning them gay. “Be very careful because gays are here to distort our heritage. We have discovered that they adopt our children and confine them in gay communities abroad to train them on gay practices. By the time they come back home, they are already influenced by homosexuality and are used to influence others in the community,” Kadaga told her audience.

Kaoma writes that Kadaga’s claims reflect “the changing religious landscape of Africa’s homophobia.”

After many unchallenged years of demonizing sexual minorities and human rights activists by U.S. culture warriors and their African allies, pro-human rights clergy are growing slowly on the continent. Many are realizing that the U.S.-born campaigns of demonization and violence against sexual minorities goes against their religious convictions. As the KwaZulu Natal Declaration showed, some African clergy opposed to the violent persecution of sexual minorities are now speaking out. In almost all Sub-Saharan African countries, religious voices against hate are slowly emerging. Since these leaders are preaching love and acceptance of sexual minorities as opposed to hatred, anti-gay pastors’ voices are now being challenged. To dismiss their critical voices, they are being branded as homosexuals themselves. African anti-gay pastors and their U.S. Right allies have entirely branded affirming Religious leaders such as Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo of Uganda, Revds. MacDonald Sembereka of Malawi, Benebo Fubara-Manuel of Nigeria, Michael Kimindu of Kenya, this author, and many others as homosexuals. Regardless, their numbers are growing—forcing anti-gay pastors and their Western allies into social panic.

Kadaga’s claim to have discovered Western homosexuals adopting African children and “confining them in gay communities abroad to train them on gay practices” is certainly a new low in her attempts to vilify LGBTQ people. Kadaga does not, of course, have any evidence for such claims—it is just another way anti-gay groups incite hatred against gay communities. African sexual minorities and their allies are also frequently accused of receiving “millions of dollars” to recruit people into homosexuality. The reality, however, being that the majority of LGBTQ people in Africa live in extreme poverty.

_____________________________________________

This paragraph, from the above report in ‘Religion Dispatches’, quoting Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s speech to the United Nations, shows the level of homophobic rhetoric being employed in his country’s persecution of the LGBTI minority:

“Those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence. It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behavior.. Homosexuality in all its forms and manifestations which, though very evil, antihuman as well as anti-Allah, is being promoted as a human right by some powers.” 

This typically homophobic reaction to Western acceptance of the human rights of Gay people is, sadly, being embraced by con/evo Christians  – not only in Africa, but in other parts of the world, where the modern understanding of homosexuality is denied.

The idea that in some way, the incidence of homosexuality is actually growing, at the encouragement of Western governments, is so ludicrous  it barely needs to be refuted. What has happened, is that Western society is now more aware of the un-necessary suffering caused to LGBTI people because of  endemic prejudice.

The outdated African myth/supposition that homosexuality was somehow imported by colonial administration is nothing more than an unsubstantiated fairy-tale. What actually took place, with the colonial take-over, was the importation of a Victorian-style morality taboo in gender and sexuality issues that has continued until this day, so that we might have real cause to blame the entrenched culture of homophobia to those administrators (among them some of the missionaries) whose antediluvian understanding of these matters was current at that time in our history.

Until the ex-colonial territories catch up with the enlightenment of Western society on the ethology of homosexuality, there is likely to be no let-up in the culture of homophobia that President Jammeh – and the presidents of certain other African countries that embrace that ethos – presently advocate.   

Sadly, for Anglicans around the world, this homophobic  stance is also being supported and embraced by certain Primates of the GAFCON  Provinces  of the Anglican Communion. This may yet prove to be the real stumbling block preventing greater cohesion  among the Provinces of the  world-wide Church. In this instance, the principle of justice needs to be served before that of unity.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand             

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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