Gambian Officials Prize Homophobia Over Foreign Aid

Gambian Foreign Minister Bala Garba Jahumpa

Gambian officials are vowing to defy European pressure to scrap the country’s draconian “jail the gays” law that calls for lifelong prison sentences for many LGBT people, even if that means forfeiting millions of dollars in aid, according to Reuters.

At stake in the dispute are the lives, safety, and freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Gambians — some of whom have already been arrested and abused since the law’s secret enactment by President Yahya Jammeh in September.

Last month, Amnesty International reported that authorities had arrested five men, a 17-year-old boy, and three women under the new law. The men, women, and teen were reportedly subjected to torture and demands by police that they reveal the names of others “guilty” of homosexuality.

Also at stake is a European Union aid package worth more than $150 million euros, initially aimed at creating economic partnerships between E.U. nations and countries in sub-Saharan Africa based on trade and human rights agreements. Yet Gambia appears willing to lose out on its share of the package in order to hold on to institutionalized homophobia…