Gambia’s president called gays a threat to human existence during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. Yahya Jammeh also criticized other countries for considering homosexuality a human right.
Reuters reports that Jammeh told the room of world leaders in New York, “Those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence. It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behavior.”
The Gambian president is no stranger to controversy, making the reaction to his latest comments unsurprising. He came to power in his country during a bloodless military coup in 1994.
Since then, one of Africa’s most controversial rulers has been accused by activists of human rights abuses. He also claimed in 2007 that he found a remedy of boiled herbs to cure AIDS. The claim angered experts who claimed Jammeh gave false hope to the sick.
During his comments to the UN General Assembly, the Gambian president made it clear he is against gay rights. He stated, “Homosexuality in all its forms and manifestations which, though very evil, antihuman as well as anti-Allah, is being promoted as a human right by some powers.”
ABC News notes that the comments weren’t the first Yahya Jammeh has aimed at homosexuals. In 2008, the Gambian president told gays and lesbians to leave the country or face the possibility of having their heads cut off.
Along with homosexuality, Jammeh believes that excessive greed and obsession with world domination are also threats to human existence. While the Gambian president spoke against homosexuality, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in favor of gay rights at a meeting of the LGBT Core Group at the UN.
Kerry told the group, which consists of countries like Croatia, El Salvador, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, and New Zealand, “In too many places around the world, LGBT persons are still punished for simply exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms.” But despite the words from the US and other countries, it’s unlikely the Gambian president will change his stance on gay rights.