The European Union in The Gambia has made a rare move in public to announce its commitment to addressing same-sex marriage. This comes in a week after the country’s Constitutional Review Commission submitted its Final Draft Constitution to the President, Adama Barrow, in which the Commission adopted the conservative view on marriage as strictly between “a man and a woman.”
In The Gambia, homosexuality is illegal and still highly considered a taboo and is against public policy. Many in the region regarded the practice as a “European culture” because West Africans had never normalized it as a society despite claims by westerners that anti-gay was imposed on Africans by colonizers. However, same-sex, just like any other unconventional social issues (Incest, Pedophilia, prostitution) do exist among Gambians, especially among “bombsters,” who occasionally get involved with gay European tourists and mostly for material gain. Additionally, in the advent of globalization and the internet culture – the practice is on the rise, especially among youths in higher academic institutions.
The European Union argued on its official Facebook page on Sunday, 17th May 2020 that they are ready to take a stand to defend human rights as it relates to Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders, Queer, Asexual individuals in The Gambia. Their pronouncement wasn’t a surprise to many, but it sparks a bitter reaction among Gambians on social media and elsewhere. In the same post, the European Union claim that they defended an individual whose life was threatened. However, this claim is perceived by many as a pretext to launch their well-planned campaign on the issue. Socially, The Gambia still remains one of the most peaceful countries in the world, and there are little to no cases of such attacks as claimed by the EU.
Mr. Fabián Salvioli, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, also have pressed on the Gambia’s Government to decriminalize same-sex relations.
The Gambia Government has late last year, firmly submitted to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group, that it has no plan to decriminalize same-sex marriage.
Euro-Centric Prescription of Human Right and the Contrast in Approach
The continuous attempt by others to provide ‘international’ prescriptions of what is to be done over Human rights, especially on sexual rights and issues around them, is making the discussion over the highly detestable practices of same-sex marriage harder in The Gambia and throughout the continent.
It is common knowledge that majority of Africans as it relates to their social structure, culture and spirituality are against gay-marriage however, this fact has not bordered the Western run institutions, who continue to coerce the leadership of the continent through the “dictatorship of aids” to impose the practice on the people. Africans and their societal settings are known to engage in polygamy, something that the West still illegalized with no plans to consider it otherwise. Africans who live in the West are conditioned to adopt monogamy or will be deemed inadmissible by immigration law if they chose to live a polygamous lifestyle.
Contrarily, while it took the West years of social anthropology and measuring public opinions on same-sex marriage before the calculative and strategic legalization of LGBTQ rights, the opposite is the approach in Africa. For example, in the US, public opinion was favorably above 50% before the Supreme Court ruling in 2012 gay-marriage.
In the quest to furthering their agenda on cultural-imperialism, many have argued that the West has no regard to public opinion in Africa and thus continue to treat it as irrelevant whereas luring the leadership of the continent to accept the imposition of their values on the people through Aid and grants; a cause for many unpopular decisions on social issues in Africa. From a worldly perspective, The Gambia still struggles with its health sector, meaning an individual willing to undergo sex-change on a non-medical basis would be at high risk. Human rights groups campaign for the banning of FGM even among grown women due to high health risks but are somehow pushing for sex-change on the continent despite the risks involved in the transition process.
The Strings on the Aids
Last year this medium reported on the EU’s strategy in conditioning the Government of The Gambia to legalize LGBTQ+ in an article titled: “EU Insist The Gambia legalize Homosexuality as Financial Pledges Remain Hanging” a claim, which the political officer for the Union in The Gambia, Else Boomstra denied. The article was brought down when this medium realized the mixing of a UN official for an EU official in the said report.
However, in an interview with a local online TV Network, Eye Africa, the EU ambassador to The Gambia revealed that the multi-million budget supports to the government of The Gambia was based on “democratic principles.” He, however, did not explicitly mention the issue of LGBT rights.
The Gambian government depends significantly on foreign Aid to supplement its budget, which forces many to believe that the issues of gay rights are always part of the conditions for the said loans. The practice of relying on foreign aids for its budget remains in place even though it’s unsustainable for The Gambia gov’t to have a significant portion of its budget depending on foreign aid when the country has miles of freshwater for agriculture and abundant fish among other resources.
In 2017, the EU and the Government of The Gambia stroke an unpopular fishing deal that allows the body to fish 3000 tons of tuna worth more than 5.5 million euro in exchange of 500,000 euro in the form of Aid assistance in which The Gambia is likely to lose a net of 4,5 million euro to the EU as a result.