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Advocate for global LGBT rights, Omar Kuddus, makes statement on Gambian Gay trial
'Homo' case has been adjourned to 1st August 2012 for hearing: Great Britain's Omar Kuddus gives remarks to New York City press
The trial highlights the brutality of the country's anti-gay policies.
Kuddus is an advocate for Human Rights and for global LGBT rights.
From Mr. Kuddus, who is following the trial:
"Gambian police have described how they raided a gay bar in Gambia during a trial of 18 people arrested for being homosexual. All were arrested at a bar in the suburbs of the capital Banjul on 6 April, when they were charged with 'indecent practice between males.' .
The defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution called two officers to testify against the men. The court heard how one policeman, named as Cpl 3247 Ebrima Dampha PW5, was briefed by Police Commissioner Landing Bojang as well as other officers that homosexuals were gathering behind Duplex Night Club.
After being given orders to enter the bar, he reported how he saw people running in all directions and described how he arrested some of them, one of which was wearing a dress.
In contradiction another police officer named as Cpl 2552 Abdoulie Dibba (PW6) told the court how he was informed that a group of homosexuals were having a party at the Elite Fitness Bar, where after entering through the back door of the venue he allegedly heard drums and saw men wearing women's clothing, carrying handbags and 'walking like ladies'.
Police apprehended three digital cameras from the scene and submitted 43 photos as evidence in their case despite the defence objection to the pictures being used as evidence, claiming they do not reflect what happened and asserting that one of the cameras is a private camera.
The prosecution responded by saying that the camera, [owned by a woman] cannot be private because it was used in a public place.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office's advice on travel to the Gambia states that: ‘Although there are no laws specifically covering homosexuality in the Gambia, the Gambian Criminal Code states that any person who has or attempts to have, "carnal knowledge" of any person "against the order of nature" is guilty of a felony and could face imprisonment.
'The Gambian courts may interpret homosexual acts as falling under this part of the Code...We have received reports that the police are actively enforcing this Code.’
This trial is but the continuation of the persecution of LGBTs in the Gambia which shows its defiant stance on Homosexuality and its desire to become the Iran of Africa, superseding anti-gay laws of its neighbouring African states, including Uganda and Liberia.
Like many in Islamic African countries, where they seems to be a contest - as was recently this week proved by Liberia - to become the worst state for African LGBTs. Indeed, the Gambian authorities' attitude towards homosexuality is a brutal one.
And lest we forget the words of Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh, who told a political rally that gay people must exit the country, we should also recall that this was only after Gay rights activists condemned his threat to behead homosexuals;
Thus under pressure from the Human Rights Watch did he recant his threats of death - but all should know that his plans for a mass exodus, under duress , of LGBT persons from Gambia still holds.
Jammeh has promised "stricter laws than Iran" on homosexuality and said he would "cut off the head" of any gay person found in The Gambia.
Yahya Jammeh said “The Gambia is a country of believers... sinful and immoral practices [such] as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country”.
What president Jammeh fails to realise is that there are a significant population of Gambians who are gay, and he has no right to ask them to leave. In fighting to maintain his control over the country; he has found the weakest group and chosen to lay all political and social problems at their door.
With the homophobic climate in Gambia, the accused on trial in court stand little chance of a fair trial, as the Presidents wishes will outweigh true jurisprudence and skew the scales of justice."