Gambia gay man who fled country after being outed dies

One of the 20 charged with homosexuality last year attempted to flee Gambia after losing his job and being disowned by his family and move to Senegal

A Gambia gay man who fled the country after being arrested and outed died yesterday evening (2 October).

The man known only as EJ was one of the 20 charged for ‘unlawful carnal knowledge’, otherwise known as homosexuality, in 2012.

Even though the charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence, the men will still hounded after their names and pictures were published in the newspapers.

Speaking to Gay Star News, Gambia researcher for Amnesty International Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus said this incident led to a mass exodus of the LGBT community, driving what is left further underground.

‘[EJ’s] family had disowned him lost his job, he got death threats, and he fled to Senegal trying to find some safety,’ she said.

‘It had been a year for him to try and get asylum. I’m very concerned about these situations, as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals need to be given protection from such oppressive countries.

‘He had been ill. It was local organizations that were trying to help him, as he could not get any help from the Senegal government.’

She added: ‘I find it very sad. He was gay and didn’t have an opportunity to live, to fight on, to be an activist.’

The death comes in the wake of Gambia choosing to leave the Commonwealth.

President Yahya Jammeh is the first leader to pull out of the Commonwealth since President Robert Mugabe chose to withdraw Zimbabwe in 2003.

Jammeh, who claims to have discovered a cure for AIDS (which is really just wild herbs and bananas), has called LGBT people a ‘threat to human existence’.

He recently outlawed male to female crossdressing and described homosexuality as more dangerous than ‘all natural disasters put together’.

‘Before the government had made such remarks,’ Sherman-Nikolaus explains, ‘they were able to live in relative peace and on the down-low and socialize together.

‘But since their names were made public, their families have denied them, lawyers have fired them and many have lived on the streets.

‘If you’re gay and it’s a secret, you’re safe, but as soon as your name becomes published it’s an unbearable situation.’

Sherman-Nikolaus says now that Gambia has left the Commonwealth, it can only mean a further pain for the LGBT community.

‘The Commonwealth is one of the few institutions that was working to further diplomatic discussions, it was attempting to implement a human rights commission in The Gambia, and it was working with the judiciary.

‘This just means that there is one less avenue for people’s voices to be heard, and one less institution that can help the gay community.’

Amnesty International is now working with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. While they have been so far been quite silent on LGBT issues, the campaigning charity believes they have ‘room to grow’.

Sherman-Nikolaus said: ‘It has the authority to speak out, it’s like the United Nations specific to Africans. They should be the voice for the voiceless to Africa.’

by Joe Morgan
Source – Gay Star News