Gambia Passes Bill To Introduce Crime Of 'Aggravated Homosexuality'

Gambia's national assembly has passed a bill to introduce the crime of aggravated homosexuality into the criminal code and make it punishable by life imprisonment in some cases, according to a copy of the bill seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The bill defines aggravated homosexuality as cases such as a person having homosexual relations with someone under the age of 18, or a person with HIV having homosexual relations.

President Yahya Jammeh is yet to sign into law the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 2014, which was passed by parliament on Aug. 25.

Homosexuality remains taboo in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups have branded it a corrupting import from the West.

"A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality is liable on conviction to imprisonment (for) life," said one section of the bill.

On the day the bill passed, Justice Minister Mama Fatima Singhateh was removed from office, though no reason was given for the decision.

Some of the fiercest African debate over the issue of homosexuality has come in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni wants to re-issue an anti-gay law rejected by a court, but without tough penalties for consenting adults, a ruling-party lawmaker said in August.

The original version of the law passed in February punished gay sex with long prison terms and alarmed Western donors, some of whom withheld aid in protest. Uganda's constitutional court overturned it on a technicality in August.

Source: Reuters Africa
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