A state-run Gambian newspaper accused members of the LGBTQ community of conspiring to throw a coup against President Yahya Jammeh.
The Daily Observer, which a human rights activist described to the Washington Blade as a “state-run propaganda outlet,” wrote in an editorial that Jammeh has “defied the LBGT Lobby who is allied with the Oil and Gas Lobby in an endeavor to undertake a Regime Change Coup in the Gambia.”
Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow, an independent candidate who represented the United Democratic Party, a coalition of eight opposition parties, in his country’s presidential elections that took place on Dec. 1.
Jammeh initially said he would not challenge the results. He announced on Dec. 9 that he would not accept them, citing what he described as voting irregularities.
So it’s understandable that Jammeh is paranoid; the majority of his country wants him gone. But why blame the LGBTQ community?
Jammeh has a long history of persecuting and scapegoating the LGBTQ community. In 2014, the Gambian government amended its criminal code to include a series of anti-gay regulations that mandate strict sentences of anyone who engages in homosexual acts.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 LGBTQ people in Gambia:
They described regular arrests and harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity by the Gambian authorities over the past few years, even before the 2014 amendments. They said, since the new law passed in October, law enforcement harassment of gay men and lesbians turned into a “witch hunt.” They described the panic in the community after many of them received calls from friends in state security agencies who warned them to leave the country to avoid arrest.
That’s horrible. Let’s hope Jammeh’s right this time, and he finds himself displaced by a massive gay coup.