Imam TourayBy Abdoulie John

Gambia’s top religious official has declined to comment on a controversial anti-gay bill that imposes life imprisonment on anyone found culpable ‘aggravated homosexuality’.

“Unless I know for sure, I have no comment to make on this issue,” the President of Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, Imam Momodou Lamin Touray, told this reporter.

On August 25, Gambian lawmakers adopted the criminal code amendment bill 2014, adding “aggravated homosexuality” as a crime under the country’s criminal code Act. The Gambian leader has 30 days to endorse or not a bill which continues to draw widespread criticism.

In recent times, Imam Touray made headlines in speaking out against homosexuality, warning Gambians that if “they failed to rid society of
such immoral behavior”, which he said offends God, “all will suffer the wrath of God.”

Following the arrest of 20 suspected homosexuals in 2013, Imam Touray was quoted by Gambia’s Daily News as saying: “It’s our responsibility, as compound owners and hoteliers, to protect our society from homosexuality.”

When asked whether the swift international outcry about the new bill has obliged him to adopt a new attitude on homosexuality, he remained mute.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has scaled up pressure on the Gambian leader and called for an urgent action geared towards stopping the ‘homophobic bill’ to be signed into law.

“The Gambian President is currently reviewing a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code which will further discriminate against and punish Gambians merely on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation,” reads a statement issued last Friday by amnesty.

The advocacy group has urged President Yahya Jammeh to “promote human rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to refrain from making threatening, intimidating, or discriminatory remarks against LGBTI persons.”

The tiny West African State got often spotlighted with President Yahya Jammeh anti-Western diatribe. The Gambian leader has accused “those who promote homosexuality” of trying  “to put an end to human existence.”
Ends

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