Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people continue to be subjected to intense violence, stigma, and discrimination in The Gambia. Consensual same-sex conduct is illegal between both men and women by way of Section 144 of the Criminal (Amendment) Code, 2005. Section 144(a) makes provision for the offence of “aggravated homosexuality”, which enumerates various aggravating circumstances, including where the offender is “living with HIV Aids” or is a â€œserial offender”, punishable with life imprisonment.
Section 167 of the Criminal Code criminalises “any man who dresses in the fashion of a woman in a public place with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a possible fine”. The Gambia does not have a framework to protect transgender or intersex rights.
At the 61st Session, the Committee had a SOGIESC-specific recommendation to The Gambia. The Committee noted that homosexual acts are criminalised in the State party and that “aggravated homosexuality” carries sentences of up to life imprisonment.
The Committee also noted with concern that LBT women in The Gambia are subject to hate crimes and arbitrary detention when perceived to be lesbians. Thus, the Committee urged The Gambia to repeal the provisions of the Criminal Code on “unnatural offences” and “aggravated homosexuality”, end the arbitrary detention of lesbians and provide them with effective protection from violence and discrimination and provide appropriate training to law enforcement officials.
There were no LBTI-inclusive questions in the List of Issues.
In the sixth periodic report that was submitted by the Gambia in December 2020, the State party responded to the CEDAW Committee’s recommendations by stating that the issue of LGBT was not considered to be a problem in The Gambia because even though it is criminalised the LGBT community are not subjected to any form of discrimination and harassment. The state party also stated that the people of The Gambia have not accepted homosexuality as a lifestyle and so the government as the representative of the people does not plan to decriminalise the practice of homosexuality. Unfortunately, this means that LBTI people will continue to be criminalised, stigmatised and discriminated against.
The list of issues (LOI) in March 2022 did not have any LBTI-specific issues.
In the Concluding Observations from October 2022, the CEDAW Committee noted with concern that women human rights defenders, especially those who identify as LBTI and advocate on behalf of LBTI people, are subjected to serious online and other threats, intimidation and harassment for their work on women’s human rights. LBTI people, as the Committee noted, face criminalisation and intersecting forms of discrimination in the Gambia.
The State Party report in 2021 noted that LBTI people’s concerns are not “considered to be a problem” because the criminalisation of LBTI people does not lead to any discrimination or harassment. The State party also went on to say that the people in Gambia have not accepted homosexuality as a lifestyle and so the government as the representative of the people does not plan to decriminalise the practice of homosexuality.