Gay Men from The Gambia on the Run with No Help

The GambiaWhile Gay people from The Gambia are on the run, the U.S. State Department on Monday condemned the decision by Gambia’s president to sign the anti-homosexuality law imposing life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, doing very little else to help LGBT people in The Gambia.

President Yahya Jammeh has now signed the bill into law, adding yet another country to the current trend in Africa of stepping up anti-homosexuality legislation.

The Gambia Anti-Gay PresidentA copy of the legislation, obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, indicates that the law was signed on 9 October, though, according to AP, no government officials have publicly notified the country of the law. “Jammeh, one of Africa’s most outspoken anti-gay leaders, instructed gay and lesbian people in 2008 to leave the country or risk decapitation.”

Several LGBTI people in The Gambia have made direct contact with me.  They have been on the run for several months now, including a Gambian man who escaped to Europe and another currently in Senegal.  LGBT people are literally running for their lives and some are in hiding. From the direct information I have the United States Department of State and the relevant Embassies are not doing anything to help LGBT people from The Gambia.

One man I am in contact with in Senegal who wants to apply to UNHCR for refugee mandate and resettlement abroad, has been asked to report back to the Senegal Refugee Commission several times, without progress,  and will have another appointment this week. We will keep you posted.

However his ability to survive has been compromised by serious lack of resources and no preparation by any human rights group for this situation. He has had to rely on my Relief fund, which is now dry, and the extremely limited charity of a couple of friends for his survival.

Regarding current arrests of a 17 year old boy, four men and nine women in The Gambia:

“The suspects are the first to be arrested since the new law went into effect Oct. 9, the day President Yahya Jammeh signed it. Amnesty International last week accused Gambian security forces of resorting to beatings and the threat of rape and other abuses if they did not confess. Gambian officials have declined to comment on the new law or the arrests.”

As for the U.S. State Department – which noted:

“In a statement, Director of Press Relations Jeff Rathke said the State Department was also concerned about reports of recent arrests targeting at least four men, a 17-year-old boy and nine women accused of committing homosexual acts.”

“We are dismayed by President Jammeh’s decision to sign into law legislation that further restricts the rights of L.G.B.T. individuals and are deeply concerned about the reported arrests and detention of suspected L.G.B.T. individuals in The Gambia,” Rathke said, using an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”

“Concern” is not enough – what are we going to do?  Unlike the Ugandans those in The Gambia are not engaged or organized as an activist community, and we need to take some emergency action from outside, – something different and innovative to help. While these laws are “sovereign” to the country, they are genocidal and egregious enough to warrant “special action.” There are no LGBTI organizational voices here in the USA doing anything to pursue something beyond the usual “we condemn” or “we are concerned.”

LGBT America, we are doing nothing as a community to provide direct humanitarian assistance to gay folk from The Gambia.

Quite frankly I am sick of hearing how ‘upset’ everyone is about this new law, while doing absolutely nothing to help our fellow LGBTI in The Gambia and other parts of Africa caught in the quagmire – laws that criminalize, resulting police brutality, arrests, evictions, banishing and firings.  I am also sick of hearing how much money organizations have raised for so called “global equality” and TV and Radio Shows to “change hearts and minds”, while at the same time people are actually running for their lives with no organization or campaigns seeking direct humanitarian help.    There is no organized LGBTI group or organization helping in The Gambia. There is absolutely no one there to help those facing arrest and community persecution.

At this time I am trying to provide direct assistance to 3 Gambian men in dire straits. If you are truly interested in helping, please donate to this campaign or find a way to provide your own direct assistance. THE RELIEF FUND:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lgbt-africa-relief-fund-4–2/x/9186720   No amount is too small.

CONTACT: nathan@privatecourts.com


6 thoughts on “Gay Men from The Gambia on the Run with No Help

  1. I think the new policy of the US State Department should be…
    1) It is the policy of the US government that persons living in nations subject to arrest for being Gay or advocating for Gay rights automatically qualify for asylum
    2) It is the policy of the US that the immigration quota will not be raised for those nations. Asylum seekers facing persecution will go to the front of the line, including in front of family reunification
    3) Visas to enter the US are contingent upon non-support of human rights abuses, of which advocacy/furtherance of laws to imprison LGBT persons are included

    That could be done, quickly, by the US State Department, without Congress.

    It would be nice if the Congress did the following:

    4) In order to pay for resettlement costs, a tax will be levied on remittances coming from the US to those nations equal to the costs to the American taxpayer for said resettlement. Failure to pay said taxes will be a crime punishable by deportation and seizure of assets.

    5) In the event that the remittance tax doesn’t cover the resettlement costs, a tax on transport (shipping, tourist travel – I think a nice fat 100 a head fee on cruise ships docking in Jamaica would send a strong statement)

    6) Organizations holding charitable treatment of donations in the US must certify that they are not assisting or paying any individual or organization that supports/enacts/furthers such laws. The penalty for doing so should be a removal of all tax mitigation for that organization and its leaders

    1. Tom thanks for your great comment. And yes this is the type of advocacy I have been writing about and looking at for some time and gearing toward since early this year – see my pride campaign. Not a single USA based LGBT organization is delving into this type of creative thinking and advocacy. However from our side here in USA we have had to show the failings of the system first and you will see a new report which I have written which will come out reflecting more holistically on the issue. There are multiple problems with what you suggest – though much of that is what I have been advocating for.

      1) There is no such thing as an Asylum VISA and there should be one. It needs to be created as a special type of category of VISA. Asylum can only be obtained once someone is already on USA soil and for those marginalized on the run and in hiding with no money it is absolutely impossible to get a visitor or student or biz visa that would land you on US soil to be able to apply for asylum: and

      2) we have a Non friendly Congress in the USA right now which will be exacerbated by the new term of Republican led congress who do not care a damn about gays or immigration.

      I think the President may be able to make some EO’s here -BUT he will be accused of legislating as VISAS can only be legislated through congress

      However I do think the President could relax the criteria for getting visitors visas and find a way to work around this. But they have failed to do that as can be seen from the following articles:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-nathan/secretary-of-state-kerry-pays-lip-service_b_5523234.html

      https://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2014/06/24/lgbt-africans-denied-visas-to-san-francisco-pride/

    2. @Tom in Lazybrook:

      I like your thinking! Especially the tax on the tourists visiting countries which legislate human-rights abuse. Hit them in the wallet & watch how quickly things turn around.

      Cheers

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