A Gambian official on Saturday rejected
the criticism of Western donor nations over a new law that prescribes
life in prison for gay sex.
The law calls for life imprisonment for
people repeatedly convicted of having consensual sex with a member of
the same sex. The harsh sentence can also be imposed in cases where
one of the partners is HIV-positive, a minor or disabled. Similar
legislation approved last year in Uganda was struck down by a court
in July on technical grounds.
The European Union and the United
States, which provide aid to Gambia, criticized passage of the law.
“The Gambian government makes it
clear that it will not collaborate or dialogue with the European
Union on the condition that will allow homosexuality to exist in The
Gambia,” Foreign Minister Balla Garba Jahumpa said during a
televised address, the AP reported.
“We are no longer going to entertain
any dialogue on the issue with the European Union or any other
Jahumpa added that the West African
nation would not back down “no matter how much aid is involved.”
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh signed
the bill into law on October 9.
Jammeh has a long history of anti-gay
rhetoric; in February he
described gays as “vermin.”