Gay men and lesbians must leave Gambia within 24 hours or face "serious consequences," the country's President President Yahya Jammeh says.
Gambia, a mostly Muslim ex-British colony of 1.7 million people in west Africa, already punishes homosexual acts, even in private, with up to seven years in prison. Gambia is a member of the Commonwealth.
Jammeh issued the ultimatum to homosexuals, drug dealers, thieves and "other criminals." He has also targeted foreign businesspeople. What gay and lesbian Gambians, who may not be able to leave the country, are to do is not addressed.
"The President equally warned all those who harbour such individuals to kick them out of their compounds, noting that a mass patrol will be conducted on the instructions of the director of the Gambia Immigration Department to weed bad elements in society," according to Gambia's jingoistic Daily Observer, which has printed an editorial supporting the President's declaration along with "another birthday celebration" praise for a president it lauds as "a world leader of epic influence."
"Any hotel, lodge or motel that lodges this kind of individuals will be closed down, because this act is unlawful," Jammeh reportedly said. "We are in a Muslim dominated country and I will not and shall never accept such individuals in this country."
President Jammeh last year announced he had developed a "miracle cure" for people with HIV/AIDS which involved him personally rubbing paste into their torsos followed by their eating two bananas.
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