A 79-year-old man from the Netherlands has been found guilty of indecency with several Gambian men. A court in Banjul sentenced Frank Boers to pay 100,000 Gambian dalasis (£2,500) in lieu of a two year prison sentence, Afrik.com reports. Mr Boers was arrested at the city’s international airport on December 23rd when officials found he was in possession of nude pictures of himself and some Gambian men and other pornography.
Gambia, a mostly Muslim country of 1.7 million people, punishes homosexual acts, even in private, with up to seven years in prison. A former British colony, the country has been ruled by President Jammeh since a bloodless coup in 1994. According to the Department for International Development, tourism is the second largest employer and is the main foreign exchange earner in the Gambia. Mr Boers conviction follows the President’s pledge to “crack down” on gay people in the country. President Yahya Jammeh turned on homosexuals and foreigners in an address at a victory celebration rally in Tallinding in May.
The Daily Observer reported that the President had issued: “An ultimatum to homosexuals, drug dealers, thieves and other criminals, to leave the Gambia or face serious consequences if caught. Any hotel, lodge or motel that lodges this kind of individuals will be closed down, because this act is unlawful.” he said. We are in a Muslim dominated country and I will not and shall never accept such individuals in this country.”
Last year two Spanish tourists arrested in the Gambia for allegedly trying to solicit gay sex from taxi drivers were released. Early reports indicated that Juan Monpserratrusau, 54, and Pere Joan, 56, were to appear in court charged with attempting to commit an “unnatural offence,” contrary to Section 124 of the country’s Criminal Code. However, it is thought the Spanish government intervened. In the wake of their arrests the Foreign Office updated its guidance for British visitors.
“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. The Code also states that gross indecency between men, whether in public or private, is a felony and anyone committing this felony could face imprisonment. We have received reports that the police are actively enforcing this Code.”
In 2006 President Yammeh horrified scientists by announcing that he had developed a “miracle cure” for HIV/AIDS. Hundreds of Gambians lined up to be “treated” by the head of state, who treats his patients by rubbing a mysterious herbal paste into their ribcages and then instructing them to swallow a bitter yellow drink, followed by two bananas. The therapy is administered repeatedly over several weeks. According to Mr Jammeh, AIDS sufferers are cured within “three to thirty days.”