BY ROB SALERNO – The president of The Gambia, a small West African republic, has denounced plans by certain countries to tie foreign aid to progress on gay rights, saying he’d prefer to forgo the aid money than to accept homosexuality.
The statements from President Yahya Jammeh (pictured below) come after 19 men were arrested over the weekend and charged with “indecent practices in a public place,” a euphemism for gay sex.
The Gambia is a former British colony that is home to approximately 1.7 million people, mostly Muslim, in a near-enclave of Senegal. Although roughly one-third of the population live below the international poverty line, Gambia has traditionally been praised for its relative political stability since independence.
Jammeh’s statements were a pointed rebuke to Britain and the US, which are the major nations pledging to tie aid to gay rights. Both countries’ ambassadors attended the opening of The Gambia’s parliament, where Jammeh made the statement.