Tainting love | The Economist

Tainting love [published on The Economist on October 11, 2014]

ILGA will share articles from The Economist ahead of its Pride and Prejudice event throughout February 2016. Excerpts shared with kind permission of the publisher.

IN THE argot of human rights, LGBT means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender—a catch-all term for sexual minorities. But Yahya Jammeh, president of Gambia for 20 years, has a different reading. “As far as I am concerned,” he thundered during a televised speech in February, “LGBT can only stand for leprosy, gonorrhoea, bacteria and tuberculosis.” He compared gay people to vermin, and said his government would fight them as it does malaria-bearing mosquitoes, “if not more aggressively”.

Gay sex is illegal in Gambia, as it is in 37 of Africa’s 54 countries. Documented evidence of a criminal homosexual conspiracy to poison Gambian culture remains elusive. But politicians remain vigilant: in August the government brought in fresh anti-gay legislation. A few weeks later ministers in Chad approved a bill mandating prison sentences of 15 to 20 years for gay sex. Across Africa, and elsewhere in the world, politicians have found gay people a useful scapegoat to distract from corruption or other domestic problems, to shore up conservative constituencies, or to steal a march on political rivals.

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ILGA supports Pride and Prejudice, a global initiative organised by The Economist Events that will catalyse fresh debate on the economic and human costs of discrimination against the LGBTI community. The 24-hour event taking place on March 3rd will begin in Hong Kong, continue in London and end in New York. Find out more about Pride and Prejudice here.