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Gambia president threatens to behead gays

Wants them out of the country

Published:

Eccentric Gambian President Yahya Jammeh threatened to behead gays unless they left the country, according to press reports.

"The Gambia is a country of believers... sinful and immoral practices (such) as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country," the president told a crowd at a political rally on May 15, local journalists told AFP.

He went on to say he would "cut off the head" of any gay person caught in The Gambia.

The anti-gay campaign continued in the Gambian pro-government media this week with the Daily Observer publishing a virulent editorial.

"We have said it before and we will say it again. This is a Muslim and Christian country. Both the Koran and the holy Bible condemn homosexuality -- pure and simple," the paper wrote on Monday May 19.

British gay rights group Outrage said in a reaction Thursday that the Gambian leader's comments came as no surprise.

"Jammeh has a long history of homophobia," spokesman Peter Tatchell said.

"If he tries to carry out these threats, international aid donors are likely to withdraw their support, and foreign tourists will stay away in droves, thereby damaging the Gambian economy," he added.

The tourism industry is vital to Gambia's economy as the West African nation lacks other natural resources.

Jammeh drew condemnation from African AIDS groups after he claimed in January to have found a "miracle" treatment for HIV/AIDS.

The method was based on medicinal plants and a Quranic verse. All participants were ordered to give up their antiretroviral drugs.