President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh of the Gambia has called on citizens of this West African nation to deny housing to “homosexuals,” making LGBT people targets for discrimination and violence yet again. IGLHRC believes that his statements violate the rights to freedom from discrimination, to adequate housing, to dignity, and to security.
Denial of Housing to LGBT People in the Gambia
On May 23, 2009, President Jammeh urged party members of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), who represent the majority in the country’s National Assembly, not to rent or allow homosexuals to stay in their compounds. The statement was made at a monument commemorating the 1994 coup that brought Jammeh, a former lieutenant in the Gambian army, into power. Last year, President Jammeh publicly denounced homosexuality and gave LGBT people in Gambia an ultimatum to leave the country by stating that he would “cut of the head” of anyone believed to be homosexual discovered in Gambia. He also warned Gambian hotel owners not to rent rooms to homosexuals.
The right to adequate housing is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and articulated in the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, the rights to dignity and security, components of the right to adequate housing, are guaranteed under the Gambian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. States may not permit forced evictions and must ensure nondiscrimination in access to adequate housing for all of its citizens.