A propaganda wave has started. The impression is being given that the Europeans want to bend the arm of the Government of the Gambia to allow a law for same sex marriages in the country. The Gambian people need to understand what is fact and what is fiction.
Foroyaa has said before that same sex marriage is yet to be a burning issue in the Gambia.
Same sex relationships becomes an issue in a country when a group of people come together to make public declaration of their sexual orientation and protest that they are subjected to imprisonment, torture or death for declaring their status. The act of imprisoning, torturing or killing them for declaring their status is what would be considered a human right violation. In the Gambia no group exists as of now that is promoting same sex marriage. Hence what is worth preaching against is the incommunicado detention of Baba Leigh without trial.
In fact, the state did arrest many young people some time ago and made propaganda on the case only to drop the charges. The young people were subjected to trial by press and suffered humiliation and degradation before being released even though all pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them. All those who value human rights denounced the unfair treatment the young people were subjected to.
It is wrong to give the impression that same sex relationships belong or does not belong to Western or Eastern; African or European culture. In countries like France where the call for same sex marriage has become very strong the opponents of the practice have recently been demonstrating for the state not to recognise such marriages. The demonstrators belong to the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths. Western society like all societies in the world are going through changes because of contesting values emanating from television, radio ,internet, books, travels and rapid and extensive interactions between people and cultures. What we need are mature and tolerant citizens who could help to give the type of socialisation that would help young people to be their better selves and adopt values that enhance their welfare and happiness and those of others.
All those who have read the seventeen points raised by the EU for the political dialogue should know by now that they raised issues of concerns to the Gambian citizens. There is nothing alien or strange or an affront to Gambian culture or the values of the religious groups in any of the points. They had made no recommendation for the Government to enact a law accepting same sex marriages. Foroyaa would beg the indulgence of our readers to publish the following seventeen points raised by the EU for their political dialogue with the Gambia, to help to combat the misinformation campaign:
Proposals for discussion put forward by the European Union to the Government of The Gambia but rejected by President Jammeh at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 are as follows;
1. Commitment of Government of the Gambia to allow the free operation of independent media in The Gambia within a deadline of one month;
2. Removal of restrictive barriers/monetary/regulatory to registration and licensing of the media;
3. Removal of restriction on accessing and sharing information electronically within one month;
4. Revision of provision in the criminal code that allow for prosecution on the charges of sedition, libel, false publication and false information to a public servant within 6 months,
5. Revision of laws on freedom of expression and media regulations within 24 months
6. Upholding of moratorium on death penalty with immediate effect
7. Provision of information regarding the recent executions, and including location of burial to families within one month
8. Review of the death penalty by the National Assembly within 12 months
9. Review of the death penalty by the National Assembly and to propose to introduce a de jure moratorium within 24 months
10. Review of the provision of the death penalty in the element of the criminal code and other laws for most serious crimes within six months
11. That the Government sign and ratify the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights within 18 months
12. Conclusion of an MOU with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to allow them access to prison facilities on regular basis within 3 months
13. Provision of regular and timely access for diplomatic corps within one month
14. Presentation of costed proposals to improve prison detention facility condition within 12 months
15. Provision of information on the UN Convention against torture ratified on June 6th 2006 within 3 months
16. Signing of the optional protocols to the convention against torture within 6 months
17. Establishment of the Human Rights Commission proposed by the Commonwealth secretariat.